Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: July 10th 2012
The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author, Candace Fleming, gives teen and older tween readers ten ghost stories sure to send chills up their spines. Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860's to the present, and ends with the narrator's death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago's rich history—the Great Depression, the World's Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.
When I was in school, my best friend was one of the bravest people I knew -- or so I thought. She delighted in whispering me ghost stories as we lay in the dark, fighting off sleep, all the while insisting that we didn't need the light on in the bathroom next door. I still remember the stay-over where she brought Daniel Cohen's Phone Call From A Ghost: Strange Tales From Modern America. While reading "Something in the Room" I got so freaked out by the picture that I threw the book from the bunk bed. (Librarians, please overlook that last sentence.) Of course, it landed face up and open on the picture that had freaked me out. Yes, this is what lay staring at us from the floor:
The problem was that, in order to descend the ladder and retrieve the book (thus covering up the creepy ghost from the closet) one had to either turn one's back to the window facing the woods or try to go down the ladder backwards. After about 30 minutes and much debate, it was settled that -- as it was my house and I had more experience with the ladder -- I would go down the ladder backwards while she held my arm to help steady me. (All of this done while averting my eyes from the book in front of me, naturally.) Needless to say the book was eventually retrieved and all was well again. Except that, here I am, 20 years later, and I still have that image burned into my memory -- and a funny story to go with it.
You would think that this would have turned me off ghost stories forever. You would be wrong. I was so deliciously terrified that it instilled a lifelong love of a good ghost story. So, back to On the Day I Died. I tell this story because On the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming would have been just the sort of book we would have loved. Some of the stories would have brought goosebumps. Others we might have rolled our eyes. While yet others would have been so wonderfully creepy that we would have remained silent, each too scared to admit we were scared. It is the perfect sort of book for slumber parties and stay overs and camping trips. Each ghost has a clear and distinct voice, making each story unique, even as they seamlessly flow into each other, getting progressively more paranormal than normal.
On the Day I Died was a lot of fun to read, but I wasn't particularly frightened. I think it would suite younger teens and middle grade readers best. My personal favorite stories: Johnnie and Edgar.
3 of 5 stars
Review also appears on Goodreads; a review copy was provided by the publisher.