The Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink. Quill Tree Books, 2021. 9780063020979
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5
What did you like about the book? Even at age 13, Esther loves Halloween. When her parents suggest that she is too old to trick or treat this year, she hatches a plan to sneak in her beloved trick or treating with her bestie, Agustín, as her cover. But as soon as they set out, it is clear that something is wrong in their neighborhood. Everyone is asleep, children are missing from their homes, and the moon is huge and unchanging. And strange, menacing creatures follow them. Esther and Agustín team up with an annoying adult neighbor and Sasha, the kid who bullies Esther at school, and the night turns into an epic battle against the Queen of Halloween and her minions.
I loved Esther and her hesitation to think of herself as too old for Halloween. She has a great life with her parents and two siblings, but thinks deeply about her Jewishness and about microaggressions her family has faced, as well as about all of the “cruelty, mistruths, and anger” involved in the tension between her and Sasha. She thinks she likes Agustín a little more than just friends, and her feelings for him play a role in the story. These ruminations form the backdrop to a truly scary story about the battle between good and evil. As the group tries to make the right decisions in their flight from the bad actors, there is some awareness that their situation is like a horror movie. As they flee the Queen of Halloween through the enchanted woods near their house, Esther says, “…let’s head toward the mysterious lights.” Agustín retorts, “Sure…that’s never a sentence that has turned out badly.” It was a tension breaker that made me laugh, and there are a lot of them.
I don’t generally read horror, but I enjoyed the combination of humor and scariness and a bit of romance in this novel.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? For upper elementary school and teen readers who don’t mind a little romance (only kissing) in their horror.
Who should buy this book? Elementary and middle schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: October 2, 2022
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