Ian Tremblin, horror writer extraordinaire, has offered the chance of a lifetime to aspiring teen authors: a contest in which the winner's book will be published.
The catch is this: the five finalists have to spend the night with Mr. Tremblin himself in the supposedly-haunted Daemon Hall. Anyone who leaves before the night is over will be disqualified.
No flashlights, cameras, cell phones or any other electronic devices are allowed. Candles are to be the only source of light.
Wade Reilly and four other students of varying ages are the finalists. When they enter Daemon Hall, they are expecting thrills and chills, but also some amount of scary fun. (Well, most of them think it will at least be kind of fun.) What they aren't expecting is pure terror, madness... and death.Daemon Hall is a fast-paced, action-packed read. The format is actually similar to that old Are You Afraid of the Dark? show -- the characters take turns telling their stories, and occasionally the other characters will interrupt, so the focus flips back and forth frequently. The stories themselves sounded genuine -- like stories that I could certainly imagine teen authors creating -- and most of them suggested the influence of other authors, like Stephen King, R. L. Stine, and Richard Matheson, while the Daemon Hall frame story evoked Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.
I didn't find it a perfect read -- the dialogue, especially, didn't feel right in a lot of places and the characters were sketched in pretty broad strokes -- but it was genuinely creepy and it moved along so quickly that the flaws weren't at all offensive. The strongest story, I thought, was Chelsea's "The Babysitter (Revisited)", partly because the screenplay format allowed me to really imagine this group of people sitting in a room in an huge mansion with only a few candles keeping the dark at bay.
Highly recommended to fans of Darren Shan and other quick creepy reads.
(cross-posted at Bookshelves of Doom)
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