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Review of The Wrong Train

The Wrong Train
by Jeremy de Quidt; illus. by Dave Shelton
Middle School    Fickling/Scholastic    209 pp.    g
7/17    978-1-338-12125-4    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-12126-1    $11.99

This unsettling collection of eight ghost stories, framed by a ninth, will surely delight fans of the eerie and the macabre. A British boy hurriedly boards a train one night, but soon realizes that he doesn’t recognize the passing countryside at all. He gets off at the next stop, and finds himself completely lost and unmoored. It’s not long before an old man and his dog come along and sit down beside him on the bench. The boy is relieved at first and grateful for their company, but as the man begins to tell a series of creepy stories while they are waiting for a return train, the boy becomes increasingly disturbed by the tales. A girl moves with her mother and baby half-sister to a dilapidated old house and inadvertently resurrects the presence of an evil woman who drowned children in a nearby pond. Another girl is left home alone on Halloween while her parents go to an adult party; there is a blackout, but something repeatedly, and inexplicably, triggers the house’s security lights. And so on. Finally, the man cajoles the boy into picking his “favorite” story just before the train arrives, setting up one final, gut-wrenching twist. De Quidt gradually escalates the tension over the course of the book, as much with the spooky mood as with the plot and characters.

From the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


About Jonathan Hunt

Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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