Contest Book #16
We liked the first two books in Patrick Carman's "Skeleton Creek" horror/mystery series. Sure, we moaned about having to access hokey online videos in order to fully experience the story (in our defense, we are way older than Carman's target audience, and probably even lazier) and made some cracks about Scooby-Doo, but we described the books as "entertaining enough", gave Carman full props for writing something to tempt reluctant readers, and made a mental note to keep an eye out for the next book in the series—The Crossbones, which came out this fall.
Like Carman's earlier installments, The Crossbones centers around the mysteries of a fictional Oregon fishing town called Skeleton Creek. The story is told via the implausibly articulate journal entries of a teenage boy named Ryan and the (equally implausible) videos shot by his best friend, Sarah. While the ghost story that propelled the first two books was largely tied up by the end of Ghost in the Machine, a mysterious card was left unexplained. Ryan is determined to investigate further, but Sarah's family has left town, which limits their interactions to terse—and unintentionally amusing—e-mail interactions like these:
"Hi, Ryan,Followed by...
I had a dream you were at the dredge without me and it made me sad. I miss you. I miss our secrets. There must be something we could do to get the magic back. But what?
"Sarah,Heh. Yeah, it's not exactly Shakespeare, but fast-paced, Ghost Adventures-style entertainment doesn't require much in the way of dialogue.
I can bring that feeling back. Tell no one, especially your parents.
Patrick Carman is like a mediocre chef with a gift for food styling—he understands the value of presentation. The Skeleton Creek series offers a smörgåsbord of gimmicks in an effort to attract readers, and while the techie tie-ins will probably be hopelessly out-of-date in a few years, we're hoping this series manages to attract—and retain!—plenty of new readers in the meanwhile.
[Review based on a publisher-provided copy.]