The Crossroads: A Haunted Mystery
Random House Books for Young Readers, May 2008
“Have you ever seen a face hidden in the bark of a tree and known that the man trapped inside wanted to hurt you?”
While Zack’s mother was dying of cancer, she also vented her frustration on him, creating a child who was constantly criticized and could never seem to do the right thing. After her death, Zack still felt her presence in the apartment and her disappointment of his actions. He felt that he could never make her happy.
Zack’s father quickly remarries and Judy seems to be the perfect stepmother, They are starting their new lives and in a new town in Connecticut where his father grew up. Zack’s dad is constantly working, so Zack is pleased with having a positive relationship with Judy. Living in a new house, trying to make new friends, and in a new family situation makes life for Zack lonely. His dad attempts to help the transition by giving Zack a dog, Zipper.
Then he meets the reclusive Gerda Spratling. For fifty years she has weekly visited a tree to remember the only man whom she ever loved. This tree is located at a major intersection, a crossroads, but now it is actually located on the land where Zack‘s family lives. Zack is bothered by a feeling of evil when he looks at the tree and wonders if somehow the tree could hold the spirit of the dead man.
Zack’s only friend seems to come from another time with another sense of values. Davy has great ideas, like how to build a tree house, but for some strange reason, only Zack does the actual work. Davy just watches and advises.
THE CROSSROADS, is definitely a page-turner. I could not put the book down. It was terrifying . With the ghosts and wondering how they are connected, the story is riveting. This is a great novel for anyone and especially for those in the tween years.
Chris Grabenstein was an improvisational comedian and has worked for advertising agencies writing commercials. He became a writer by taking a Writing Aptitude Test and James Patterson recognized his brilliance instantly hiring him. He has written screenplays, made-for-TV movies, Muppet scripts, and a variety of other texts. Winning the Anthony Award for “Best First Mystery” given at Bouchercon 2006 for TILT A WHIRL was the beginning of his successful writing career.
This story continues in the sequel, THE HANGING HILL.
Reviewer Teri Davis has been an educator for 30 years.