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The Smoky Corridor (A Haunted Mystery) Paperback – August 9, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Haunted Mysteries Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8 This third entry in the series continues the adventures of Zach Jennings, who has the uncanny ability to see and talk with ghosts. His entrance into sixth grade is complicated by the brain-eating zombie that sleeps under the school guarding a Confederate treasure trove for a voodoo-practicing ghost waiting to take over the body of an unsuspecting child. With a maze of tunnels under it, a cemetery behind it, and guardian ghosts wandering through it, this middle school is far worse than most. Murders are committed in the quest for the treasure, but the creepiness tends to be so over-the-top, and there is so much humor in the book, that the evil is mitigated. Zach is a likable character, resigned to his ghost-seeing abilities and often trying to connect with his inner superhero. He's also nervous about the new school, realistic about his status there, and wants to make friends and avoid the school bully. With its short chapters, Smoky Corridor might appeal to some reluctant readers, but there are a lot of characters, including ghosts, to keep track of, and the plot is full of twists and turns that could be confusing. Grabenstein is a riveting storyteller most kids won't be able to put this book down. Its appeal will be wide, as it is a mystery, a thriller, a ghost story, a school story, an action adventure, and a humorous book. It can stand alone, although reading the earlier titles does provide some pertinent background information. Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The latest in the Haunted Places Mystery series (the first, The Crossroads, 2008, won both the Anthony and Agatha awards) once again stars middle-schooler Zack Jennings, who is beset by ghostly visitations. He is starting a new school—well, actually, a really old one, sort of an antebellum Hogwarts built by an eccentric Civil War steamboat captain—filled with crazy corridors, the ghosts of two boys who died in a fire, and zombies. This has all the mordant wit, rollicking action, and grossness any middle-schooler could want. Fans will want to check out Grabenstein’s other frightfests. Grades 5-8. --Connie Fletcher --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 690L (What's this?)
  • Series: A Haunted Mystery
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reissue edition (August 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375865101
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375865107
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 16, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I had the pleasure of meeting this wonderful author when he came to my school. He introduced me to this series and I thought it was amazing. I have never read a horror book before in my life but this book made me fall in love with this new genre. I couldnt put this book down. I would give it ten stars but unfortunately they only allow five.
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Format: Hardcover
When Zack notices a portrait in his new school watching him, he knows this academic year will feature a few ghosts. In this third Haunted Places mystery, Zack is getting used to being able to communicate with spirits, but is still finding himself in the middle of puzzles caused by living humans as well. Chris Grabenstein keeps the humor and mystery going at high levels in this fun series with plenty of surprises.

Zack's father had attended Horace P. Pettimore Middle School years ago, and now the Principal does not like Zack. The ghosts of the Donnelly brothers, who were burned to death in a corridor, want Zack to play campfire. A janitor then disappears, and Zack's old ghost friend Davy reappears. No one really wants to eat lunch with Zack, who has a lot to sort out here.

In his previous two novels, THE CROSSROADS and THE HANGING HILL, Zack's mystery-solving skills resulted in his house burning down, near-escapes from death for himself and others, saved lives, and more. He's wary of getting too involved in this mess, but it's clear that some evil is at work in the school. "Guardian" ghosts for each student come to warn him about danger and advise him not to tell any adults. Readers will be clued in on the evil plot to find a descendant of the school's founder who will help bring dead people back to life and locate a rumored treasure underneath the school. Could Zack be that descendant?

As he starts talking to spirits and humans to uncover what is going on, more misfits at the middle school begin banding together at lunch and throughout the rest of the day to help each other navigate the already stressful life of classes and homework. Add bullies, ghosts, zombies and treasure hunters, and soon they have to rely on each other just to stay alive.
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Format: Hardcover
The Smoky Corridor is actually the third book in The Haunted Places Series. Though references are made to events that obviously occurred in previous books, The Smoky Corridor is a standalone tale and I had no problem jumping in without having read the first two books. Nor do I feel that the first two books have been ruined by my reading the third first, so I can go back and read them as well, which I plan to. The upside is that some of the major exposition is streamlined going into this third tale. For example, here is an excerpt from page 3:

Zack knew a thing or two about haunted places, because he had a special gift: He could see all sorts of dearly departed souls (even the ones who popped into paintings) whom other people, especially adults like his dad, could not. He always figured it was the kind of gift that should've come with a gift receipt so he could take it back for something better, like athletic ability or super-powers.

The fact that our main character has a sixth sense is sort of a big deal plotwise and if this were the first book in the series I would expect Grabenstein to take some time and really establish Zack Jennings' ability to chat with the dead. There are certain obligatory scenes that go along with discovering a gift/curse like this one: Zack's first chat with a dead person, the scene where Zack freaks out and is convinced he's losing his mind, the scene where Zack accepts his ability and heads out to the graveyard to do some chatting the way Bruce Willis walks around bumping people in the crowded train station at the end of Unbreakable (a Ninja favorite). Having not yet read the first book in the series, I can't be sure what variation Grabenstein took on these obligatory scenes, but I'm sure some version of them was employed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fun story in a series by Chris Grabenstein...this one follows Zach to his new school where he meets the ghosts of the Donnelly brothers who died long before in a fire in a smoky corridor. Add some buried treasure, a bully, a ghost of the school's founder, guardian ghosts, and zombies and it's the perfect formula for a teen novel. Read this before reading the others in the series and didn't feel lost. Enjoy!
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Format: Paperback
This whole series is amazingly written. I have read the first 3 books and can't wait to get my eyes on "The Black Heart Crypt"!! Chris is a truly wonderful writer who knows how to keep his readers engaged. My 13-year-old son who is not a reader was also captured by this series. Great reads for teens and adults!! I don't have a favorite of the series, they are all wonderful!!! Kudos to Chris Grabenstein, keep them coming!! :D
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Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

Ahh, it was such a blast sitting down with this next book about Zack Jennings, the boy who sees ghosts. Summer is over and Zack is finally starting at his new school. This Middle School has been around since the end of the Civil War when the mansion was donated as such and over the years parts have been added onto it making it a maze of hallways and classrooms. As soon as Zack arrives, he's visited by a ghost from book one who tells him something major is going down at the school; a zombie in the depths of the basement below has reawakened and Zack needs to deal with it and the evil spirit that controls it before he takes over the body of an unknown student in the school.

This has all the ingredients for a great horror story! Two ghost children from 1910 who died in a fire in the school under mysterious circumstances and are out for revenge, a zombie (or two), ghost stories, a few gruesome deaths and children's souls in peril. Zack has been warned that adults cannot be involved so he can't tell his stepmother, Judy, who also sees ghosts, and has been his supernatural sleuthing partner for the first two books. Instead Zack makes friends with two loner/outcast-type kids and they are pulled into the events with Zack. But not only does Zack have to deal with the supernatural, he also has two very alive people on his trail and trying to get into the basements as well, for the original owner of the mansion is said to have stolen a sizable treasure of Confederate gold during the war and hidden it somewhere on the property. These two baddies are related to a soldier buried in the nearby Civil War Cemetery and they know all about people who can communicate with the dead.
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