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Dead End Street
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Top Customer Reviews
With "Dead End Street", Reed enters the burgeoning young adult market. Those familiar with Reed's work - and those acquainted with his colorful blog postings - may at first scrunch their face at the idea and wonder how the oft titillating writer manages to pull this one off. But he does, effectively and suitably for the intended audience.
"Dead End Street" is a delightful haunted house story, framed by an effective use of the story-within-a-story narrative. Peter, Marlene, Erin, Roy, and David are imaginative eighth-graders from a small Ohio River town whose latest idea is the formation of a storytelling club, the Halloween Horror Club. The idea is simple: each member tells the most horrifying tale they can come up with and the scariest wins. The idea is initially knocked by the group, but Peter, who wears coke-bottle glasses and has been the imagination behind many of the group's various clubs over the years, offers a unique twist: the stories will be told at the infamous Tuttle house, an abandoned residence on a wooded dead-end street that was once sight to an unsolved triple homicide.
Despite a few misgivings among the group, the teens' curiosity in the macabre wins out and the club convenes the following week. Peter goes first, with his reimagining of the Tuttle mythos, one in which Paul Tuttle - the teenage son who went missing after the brutal slayings of his parents and young sister - is the victim of demonic possession after watching "The Exorcist."
As each of the teens try to top each preceding story with their own tale of terror, the group begins to suspect that they're not alone in the house. A creaking floorboard here, a mournful cry there, and the teens are suitably spooked as it's revealed that a mysterious interloper watches and listens from the shadows of the house. Has Paul Tuttle returned to the scene of his alleged crimes to claim more victims? Do the ghosts of the Tuttle family haunt the house on the end of Acton Road? When one of their own stumbles into trouble trying to find out just what - or whom - haunts the Tuttle house, the group must summon its courage to save their friend and confront their own fears in the process.
The teens' stories work as short, stand-alone tales within the novel and run the gamut of topics and themes -- twin sisters lost in the snowy woods with a faceless terror, a werewolf dad for whom the full moon brings the ultimate tragic irony, a late-night driver on a road to nowhere, and a horror-obsessed teenage boy who enjoys scaring people (literally) to death. The stories work well here as campfire tales and help to bring insight into Reed's teen cast of characters, even if some of the language choices border on precocious at times ("pince-nez glasses" or "The evening was placid.").
Reed has proven himself time and time again at crafting solid stories in which the suspense ratchets up exponentially with each passing chapter. "Dead End Street", even within the confines of its YA limitations, is no exception. The relatively short novel builds to an action-packed finale in which the teens run afoul of the house's mysterious inhabitant, with Reed twisting and turning the story line just enough so that the reader is kept enjoyably off balance and surprised along the way.
Void of profanity and sexual content but brimming with just enough violence to appeal to teens without putting vigilant parents off, "Dead End Street" is a perfect YA horror experience for young readers. Adults familiar with Reed's work and wanting to relive the nostalgia of their "Goosebumps" or Phyllis Whitney early reading experiences might also want to visit the Tuttle house.
The individual horror stories that the friends come up with are all pretty good and that novelty carries us through the first half of the novel, providing a wonderful sense of creepy atmosphere. I was very impressed by the author's ability to create five vivid characters with distinct personalities without bogging the novel down with too much description or back story.
When the friends begin to sense that something is wrong in the house, beyond its disturbing history, there is a bit of stupid horror movie character behavior. Although it's mostly on the part of one character -- the others have more sense. But I liked the way everyone banded together to help each other, rather than running around screaming and getting picked off one by one, the way most horror stories tend to go.
A very nice horror story with great atmosphere!
The Tuttle house sits abandoned on a dead end street away from other homes. It’s falling apart around itself as it hasn’t been lived in in over fifteen years. Fifteen years ago, a family was brutally murdered in the house and the killer and murder weapon have never been found. The parents and their four-year-old daughter Stacey didn’t survive that night. Stacey’s older brother Paul, fifteen at the time, disappeared and has not been seen since before the murders. Local legend says that Paul committed the murders against his family and took off, never to be seen or heard from again. The house, as I state above, hasn’t been lived in for all that time and the once lovely home that set at the end of the street is now anything but. No one goes into the Tuttle house because there’s talk of it being haunted. Teens have tried over the years but have all run out screaming. There’s talk of some never coming out again. What better place to hold the meetings for the Horror Club than a house rumored to be haunted? Of course all of Peter’s friends are scared to go near the old house, much less spend time inside, but they all agree to the once a week meetings for the storytelling. Who wants to look scared in front of their friends?
The first story goes well, but the group hears a sound here and there that may or may not be coming from upstairs. They get out quick but come back for the next story the following week. Each week there are different sounds – sounds that surprisingly coincide with whatever story has just been told. From the howling of what sounds like a werewolf to a woman’s scream. The kids now know that there is more to the house than just talk. After spending time inside on and off for weeks, they are all convinced that it’s haunted. David convinces them to continue until each story has been told, coming up with this excuse or another for the sounds heard inside the house. David is the most competitive of the group and to this reader, the most brave. This depends on how you look at David. David lives in a home with a father who pushes him to the point where he feels that if he ever stops anything midway, that he’s a failure. So David does something that he knows he shouldn’t do. He goes into the house alone without his friends. He does this many times and discovers there’s more to the place than creaky steps and broken windows. There’s someone inside the house. What happens when he comes face to face with that person and there’s no one around to help him? Who is the person? Is it Paul Tuttle, the son and brother of those killed a decade and a half ago? Or is it someone – or some thing – even more sinister than an assumed murderer?
This is not a romance, nor is it a LGBT story. It’s a YA book about five teens who get caught up in something dangerous by doing what teens tend to do… breaking the rules. While I don’t normally review YA books on On Top Down Under, I do review Rick R. Reed books on there, and Dead End Street is perfect for all ages. Had this been written by anyone else, I might not have expected the major creep factor that I found in this book. With it written by this author, I knew beyond doubt that the horror would be there and that it would be the perfect story.
This is more than just a story about five teens who tell ghost stories. One, the ghost stories told are stories in themselves and all very entertaining and more than a little creepy. Two, this is also a suspenseful mystery. What happened to Paul Tuttle when his family was murdered all those years ago? Is he the one inside the house scaring the group? What happens when David ventures in alone and gets caught in a situation he may not be able to get out of?
Overall, another great book by one of my favorite authors. I discovered Rick R. Reed way back when while looking for horror. I have since read so many of his books – both horror and romance – that I lost count. It’s become kind of a tradition for me to read one of his horror stories around Halloween. I picked the perfect one with Dead End Street. The ending is perfect and not at all what I was expecting.
Review also published at ontopdownunderbookreviews.com.