Saturday, May 8, 2021

Review: Wicker Village by Michael J Moore


Nightmares in Aston, #1
by Michael J. Moore
World Castle Publishing
Middle Grade Thriller
151 pages

Wicker Village is a trailer park with a dark secret that eleven-year-old Juanito Hernandez wishes he hadn’t discovered. He’s only lived there a week, yet the horrors within continue to find him—from a human-shaped swarm of bees, to a video on his phone that speaks directly to him, and then mysteriously vanishes. Soon his new friends begin to experience the same horrors, and the visions turn to threats. Juanito doesn’t blame his parents for not believing him, however, that doesn’t change the fact that they’re in very real danger.


Beginning with the feel of a Goosebumps meets Goonies, this book slides into a slightly darker direction to leave chills and thrills.

Juanito and his family haven't lived in the trailer park for long before he runs into a human monster made of bees. Still struggling with the entire idea of moving away from the house and his friends, he's not ready to believe that there are monsters, too. But strange things are definitely going on, and the more he tries to get to the bottom of it, the stranger it gets.

This book starts out as a solid middle grade and holds all sorts of adventure and spooks. I enjoyed getting to know Juanito, and it was no problem to root for him from the beginning on. The writing flows nicely, and it has exactly the chill factor, which middle graders will enjoy. It's enough to scare but not so much so that it goes over board. Friendship is key, and even topics like bullying come into play. But this one is more about the spook and fun factor.

While the first half of the book has the usual atmosphere and style that's to be expected in this type of middle grade read, it takes a slightly darker turn in the later part. Not only do things get a bit deeper than usual for this age group, but some harder directions are hit upon (for example, the 11-year-olds drink alcohol in the forest). More sensitive readers should be made aware of this. But for those who enjoy dark twists and turns with adventure, friendship, and even, at times, a fun ride, this is a read to enjoy.

And here he is...

Michael J Moore is an author from Washington state. His books include Highway Twenty, which appeared on the Preliminary Ballot for the 2020 Bram Stoker Award, the bestselling post-apocalyptic novel, After the Change, which is used as curriculum at the University of Washington, the psychological thriller, Secret Harbor and the middle-grade story, Nightmares in Aston. His work has received awards, has appeared in various anthologies, journals, newspapers (i.e. the Huffington Post) and magazines (i.e. the Nation), on television (with acclaimed newsman, Carlos Watson) and has been adapted for theater.

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