Title: The Halloweeners (MonsterStreet #2)
Author: J.H. Reynolds
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Fisher is excited to finally join up with his new friends, and become a member of the Halloweeners, which is a group that is obsessed with all things Halloween. Unfortunately for him, he finds himself grounded on Halloween night because he talked back to his mother, who told him they were moving again. He sneaks out anyway, and joins his three new friends in a trick or treating contest. During the contest, the group comes across the creepiest house in the neighborhood, and something compels his friends to start eating all the candy on the porch. The results prove monstrous, and Fisher is left to rescue his friends, who have all turned into real-life versions of their Halloween costumes.
This is the second book of the MonsterStreet series from J.H. Reynolds, and is a step up from the werewolf story of the first book. Frankly, I’m surprised Reynolds went as far as he did with some of the things in The Halloweeners as things take a more violent twist than what we might usually see in these types of middle grade horror novels. I definitely appreciated it, and there was nothing I wouldn’t let me child read (when she reaches that age), but I was surprised to see some of the descriptions within. Good for Reynolds, though, as times have changed, and it helps the book feel more relevant for today’s middle grade audience.
There isn’t a whole lot of depth with The Halloweeners; all of the emotional drivers of the story are very basic, and easily resolved. This is what I expect with these novels, but I would love to see one of these go a little deeper than surface level to create a bit more meaning for the reader, young or old. I did enjoy the relationship between Fisher and Ava, a member of a competing group that is in the trick or treating contest. There is definite growth between these two, which I really appreciated.
The ending of The Halloweeners is stronger than that of The Boy Who Cried Werewolf, but it does suffer from a little bit of the “everything works out exactly as planned in a very short time” thing that the first book had. It’s less intrusive this time out, though, so I didn’t mind it nearly as much. Plus, the journey to the finish was more intriguing than Werewolf as well, which makes everything more enjoyable.
J.H. Reynolds is producing some really strong work with his MonsterStreet series. I have one more to read in the series, with the fourth book due out in the summer of 2020. I like the fact that I enjoyed this second book more than the first, and I’m hoping that trend sticks as I continue the series.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.