REVIEW: The Halloween Children by Brian James Freeman and Norman Prentiss

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  THE HALLOWEEN CHILDREN by Brian James Freeman and Norman Prentiss (Random House Publishing Group - Hydra)

 The authors of The Halloween Children are sneaky geniuses in the art of storytelling—adepts who snatch your attention, get you invested and immersed in the tale and then hint at something sinister in a subtle way that provokes dread, horror and suspense. It's as if they flick a juicy "thought drop" into the pool of the reader's imagination and then let the ramifications ripple into obsession, inciting intrigue and fear for the fate of beloved characters.

 Harris, the Stillbrook Apartment complex's handyman, is good father, but in all honesty, he favors the side of his son, Matt, where child discipline is concerned. His wife Lynn is searching for herself and struggling with inner turmoil, on edge and ruminating over their marriage––should they divorce?––and within the family's dynamics, her daughter Amber delights her to no end, but her son Matt needs to be watched. Then there's matter of the creepy neighbors, the tenants of Stillbrook: a spooky no-neck woman in a wheelchair who may be faking her injuries, the Durkins' exotic, thousand-dollar bird that shrieks unearthly squawks that sound like someone being tortured—or murdered. Which is strange because there actually had been a grisly death within the complex that was kept hush-hush by management.

 The story unfolds through Harris' journal, Lynn's journal (as assigned by a marriage counselor she's been seeing in secret), recordings, digital transcriptions, email and interviews. The immediacy of this technique makes for a taut, fast-paced, enjoyable read. The Halloween Children kept my eyes glued to the glow of the screen, licking my lips and swiping digital pages into the wee hours after midnight. This horror novel is a treat!

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