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Mothman's Curse by Christine Hayes
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Mothman's Curse

by Christine Hayes

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If you like scary novels, here’s one for you!

Josie’s family owns the local auction house. A famous recluse has passed away in a nearby town, and they are auctioning off his estate. Mr. Goodrich was famous because his town was covered in a landslide and most people were killed. They should have survived because he and his wife warned everyone to move away, but few people moved because everyone thought the Goodriches were crazy. Now that he is dead, no one is around to foretell the next disaster, so he haunts Josie and her brother. They find an old Polaroid camera from the estate that has no film in it, but every picture is of Mr. Goodrich, and his lips are moving. They can’t tell what he’s trying to say, except “Save them.”

Josie and her brother begin researching and everything they learn indicates that many people are going to die including Josie. It’s a frightening book about a famous creature that may or may not exist, Mothman.

I’m not a fan of the “scary” novel, but I thought this was pretty well done. I think the cover is too childish, but the story has many really tense moments. ( )
  acargile | Nov 5, 2015 |
MOTHMAN’S CURSE begins out with a great hook:

“When you live in the most haunted town in America, you’ve heard most every ghost story that’s ever been spun about your corner of the world: . . . .”

I have a strong prejudice: The world needs more MG horror stories that deliver supernaturally-provoked chills with bedwetting intensity. I prefer ghost stories, but I happily scoop up MG horror stories that creatively skyline all sorts of supernaturals, so long as they don’t cheat on the creep. A sleepless night (or two) may inspire a love of horror that lasts a lifetime; that was certainly true for me.

The premise of MOTHMAN’S CURSE focuses on an intriguing supernatural legend that supposedly lurks—or did—in the mountains near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. In 1966 and 1967 a man-sized mothy critter reportedly fluttered through the area, looming up at night and scaring the poop out of a number of people. Some believed Mothman, as the apparition came to be called, was a harbinger of the late-1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge, which killed 46 people. This insect-man-thingy inspired an entertaining, if imperfect, movie—The Mothman Prophecies (2002)—in which Richard Gere dashes around Point Pleasant trying to fathom Mothman’s meaning. Prophecies wanders down one too many odd side paths, but it also delivers several nicely unsettling moments.

MOTHMAN’S CURSE is not unlike this movie. Excellent choice of supernatural beastie, intermittent entertainment, and a meandering plot.

Unsettling moments? Sadly, not so much.

The story: Josie, daughter of a widowed auctioneer and older sister to two brothers, finds a Polaroid camera that, although empty of film, produces pictures that reveal the image of a sad-faced elderly man, Mr Goodrich, who seems desperate to deliver a message . . . and who, they discover, killed himself. Josie learns the ghostly warnings refer to the Mothman, whose appearance presages deadly natural disasters.

From this intriguing premise, things grow complicated. Very complicated.

There’s a cursed gold hatpin; a dead mother, for whom Josie and her brothers grieve; boxes and boxes of papers, whose contents seem divorced from the plot; radios and televisions that transmit the voices of the dead; another ghost who occasionally flickers into view for no reason that moves the story forward; a father who spends most of the book confined to a hospital bed; a hairdresser who tells Josie’s aunt secrets surrounding deaths related to the Mothman, then clams up when approached by Josie and her brother; a pace-killing sidebar about Josie’s resentment that Mr Goodrich committed suicide; and, most disappointing, the Mothman reveal.

In one of the few nicely done chilling moments, early in the story, Josie catches a glimpse of red eyes glowing outside her bedroom window; a lovely bit of creepiness. However, having created an expectation that Mothman will continue to haunt Josie’s nights, Hayes has Mothman swoop about the auction house in broad daylight, practically brushing the heads of people gathered to bid and buy. Glowing red eyes in the night and a half-seen figure terrified Point Pleasant in the mid-sixties; sunshine and broad exposure turn this Mothman into a cross between an alarmed bat and a cheap, flashy Marvel comic character; hardly a figure to inspire fear. In fact, so unscary is this sight, hordes of sightseers promptly camp out in front of the auction house, hoping for another sighting.

The pace is quick, but this is almost despite the fact MOTHMAN becomes hampered by a confusion of minor characters (e.g., the helpful-then-not-helpful handyman/security guard/graduate student Mitch).

Yet, even all these things could not kill my anticipation; I can deal with myriad subplots and a broad cast of characters if the plot and writing deliver on the chills that are an inherent promise in a horror story.

Alas.

From beginning to end, scenes that ought to ratchet up the suspense, pushing readers toward a fit of shudders and a desperate need to learn what happens next—Will thousands be killed in a stadium collapse? Will Josie die because of the Mothman’s curse?—is delivered with all the tension involved in changing a roll of toilet paper.

I did enjoy the illustrations, and I hope the increased use of illustration in middle-grade books continues. This was once very popular, used to advance the plot, and its resurgence in recent years is gratifying. Kudos to James K. Hindle for this bookful of lively pictures.

I SO wanted to love MOTHMAN’S CURSE. I would give it 2.5 stars—although LibraryThing confines me to either 2 or 3—because I applaud Hayes’s attempt to exploit the Mothman legend in a middle-grade book. I hope she will try again, and I also hope more authors will produce genuinely scary horror—no gore or gratuitous violence—that will cause at least one or two sleepless nights for children of all ages. ( )
  Charlotte.Hunter | Jul 13, 2015 |
THE MOTHMAN’S CURSE by Christine Hayes is a spooky thriller for middle grade readers.

Living in America’s most haunted town, Josie is accustomed to strange happenings in her family’s auction house. However, the appearance of a Polaroid camera that captures images of a ghost draws Josie and her brother into a century old mystery. A ghost, a monster, and a cursed pin are just a few of the creepy things these witty siblings encounter as they try to prevent a disaster in their small Ohio town.

This fast-paced suspense will keep readers on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next. Hayes’ conversational writing style is easy to read and her characters are well-developed.

What will make the story even more compelling for young readers is the connection to with local legends about a real Mothman. Create a display featuring this book along with others about legendary monsters like Bigfoot and Sasquatch.

To learn more about the author, go to http://christinehayesbooks.com/.

Published by Roaring Brook on June 16, 2015. ( )
  eduscapes | Jun 17, 2015 |
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"When Josie and her brother Fox discover the truth behind the legend of the Mothman, they must stop a disaster in order to break the curse that has been afflicting their town"--

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