Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

THE CROSSROADS by Chris Grabenstein

If you know a young reader who’s been interested in exploring ghost stories and tales with a spooky bite, I’ve got the perfect book for you. Chris Grabenstein’s The Crossroads is an excellent entry vehicle for these young readers, especially reluctant ones who get bored reading.

There’s nothing boring about this book. It starts off with a bang and keeps the hits coming as the young hero and his stepmom untangle all the intricacies of the supernatural mystery that lies at the heart of this book. There are some deaths that occur during the unveiling of the tale, and some genuinely creepy twists and turns, so this isn’t an entirely bloodless read.

The eleven year old hero, Zack, is a great kid that young readers and the parents of young readers will enjoy. He’s a fun, shy kid with hang-ups that a lot of young readers will empathize with. The bits and pieces when he hears his dead mother talking to him sarcastically hurt and will win over readers.

The most surprising character in the book is Judy, Zack’s stepmom. Usually the adults in a juvenile novel take backstage to the action, but Judy stays right at the heart of it and often tripped across reveals all on her own. In fact, Grabenstein uses Judy to build up all the suspense and tension that surrounds Zack.

Other characters step on stage as well, including Gerda Spratling, the weird old widow that maintains a grave marker at the crossroads where her fiancé was killed. She evokes sympathy at first, but Grabenstein twists and warps her to expose the darkness within.

The story’s pacing is excellent. Short, bite-sized chapters create a momentum from page one that sweeps the reader through the narrative. This would be a perfect read-aloud book for teachers to share in the classroom, or to read to your kids at night. I’m planning to take this one to read to my twelve year old the next time we go camping because it’s a perfect ghost story for out in the wilds.

Grabenstein has written a sequel detailing more adventures for Zack and Judy. I can’t wait to pick up The Hanging Hill and see what happens next.


3 Responses to “THE CROSSROADS by Chris Grabenstein”

  1. Thank you so much for the kind words. I am having fun going to schools and using THE CROSSROADS to teach about writing. I love reading it out loud, especially the Gerda Spratling bits, and watching 200 fifth graders get spooked1

  2. […] Thing: The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein BC Book Reviews: The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein Bookhound: The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein Mrs. McGriff’s Reading Blog: The Crossroads by Chris […]

  3. helllo wat is the most important lesson in this story and wat was the biggest thing that the charater zack had to face hurry reply fast

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