THE SMASHED MAN OF DREAD END by J.W. Ocker

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Noe wasn’t particularly upset about moving to a new neighborhood. It’s not like there was anything left for her in her old neighborhood or her old school–not since her sleepwalking cost her her best friend. But the new neighborhood (Dread End, as its street sign proclaims) isn’t exactly full of friend potential. In fact there are just a couple of mopey, creepy girls, and all they seem interested in doing is telling Noe to stay out of her basement.

So of course, that’s the first place Noe goes.

It doesn’t seem like anything special. A dirt floor. A washing machine. A few cracks in the walls. But when Noe sleepwalks downstairs at night, she discovers the dark secret her neighborhood hides: a paper thin man with a grotesquely smashed face who oozes out of the cracks in the basement walls of all the houses on Dread End. Only children can see him, and the Dread Enders have pretty much accepted that there’s nothing they can do to get rid of him, especially since the last girl who tried to fight him wound up in a coma. But Noe knows that all monsters have rules, and all monsters can be beaten. She just needs to figure out how–before she sleepwalks into his clutches.

I am in love with this inventive middle grade horror novel! The monster was as original as it was thoroughly blood-chilling, and the heroines wouldn’t give up, even in the face of terror and the possibility of bodily harm. What a fabulous ride! I highly recommend this one to upper elementary and middle school fans of the genre.

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