The Puppet’s Payback and Other Chilling Tales

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The perfect vintage dress leads a young woman into the past. Staying out late has consequences for a delinquent tween. A sickly girl convalesces at a peculiar school. A clumsy aspiring basketball player gets help from a kid who can only play around midnight.

Scary stories are a popular genre for younger readers, teaching them about tension, surprises, frights, and the slow, delicious buildup of horror, but it’s a field rife with middling content. It’s hard to tell good scary stories for younger readers without going either too cheesy or too dark. Very few writers can walk that tightrope and keep each story engaging.

Mary Downing Hahn’s balance of pacing, anticipation, and unnerving uncertainty is absolutely spot-on, and I wish The Puppet’s Payback and Other Chilling Tales had been around when I was younger. I would have eaten this book up. There is the inevitable lurking evil, the ghostly mystery, the victim of poor choices, and the well-intentioned Samaritan whose actions lead them astray. These are all perfect for younger readers, offering a terrific doorway into the world of scary thrillers that awaits them.

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Author Mary Downing Hahn
Star Count 3.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 192 pages
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publish Date 01-Sep-2020
ISBN 9780358067320 Buy this Book
Issue January 2024
Category Tweens