The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki. August 1, 2012. Scholastic Press. 372 pages. Ages 10 - 14.
After their father abandons the family to pursue his dreams of Hollywood and their mother sinks into a deep depression, Neil Cady and his sister Bree are sent to live with their aunts in rural Pennsylvania.
Once there, Neil is befriended by a local boy named Wesley who tells him about the legend of Graylock Hall, an abandoned psychiatric hospital where several teenagers died mysteriously. A nurse who worked the graveyard shift, Janet Reilly, was believed by some to be responsible for the deaths. Legend has it she hung herself before the investigation was completed and that her ghost now haunts Graylock Hall, looking for new victims.
Neil and Wesley plan to explore Greylock Hall, and are joined by Wesley's older brother Eric. After Bree sees Eric, she decides to go as well. The foursome finds the abandoned hospital to be dirty and very creepy. As they look around and get briefly separated while checking different rooms in the youth wing, Neil finds Bree in Room 13, acting strangely. After he goes inside, the door mysteriously slams shut, trapping them and Neil feels something brush up against him, then he sees a mysterious female figure dressed in white with long brown hair. Finally, the door opens and they all eventually find their way out of the building.
Once safely back at their aunts' house, Neil convinces himself it was just his imagination. But then strange things start happening. Neil and Bree have the same nightmares of being drowned in the lake surrounding Graylock Hall, and awake finding puddles beside their beds. Neil thinks he's sees the mysterious girl in their house and in town. Neil and Bree finally come to the conclusion that they did not leave Graylock Hall alone. Who or what is it, and what does it want with Neil and Bree?
This is a very fast-paced and creepy ghost story, perfect for the older kids who can handle it, or for adults such as myself who are not a fan of true adult horror, but like a good ghost story with a happy ending and no gore. This would not be a good book for more sensitive or suggestible readers. The suspense starts to build immediately as the tweens & teens break into Graylock Hall in the second chapter and have their first encounter with the ghost, and continues throughout the book. I thought the characters were relatable and I liked how they stood up to their self-absorbed father in the ends.
I decided to read this book after one of the tweens in my middle school book discussion group suggested it as a read-alike for Holly Black's Doll Bones. I found The Ghost of Graylock to be even creepier and spookier than Doll Bones, partly because it starts out with them exploring the creepy asylum right in the beginning. Also, I think what made it even scarier is that in Doll Bones the identity of the ghost and what she wanted were known right away, whereas in Graylock, they do not know who the ghost is or why she is haunting them until the latter part of the book.
I would recommend this for anyone requesting a good, scary story.
Other Books By This Author
Dan Poblocki has written several other supernatural thrillers for older readers, including The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe, The Stone Child, and The Nightmarys, as well as a milder mystery series for slightly younger readers, The Mysterious Four, in which four friends solve all kinds of mysteries in sixclues or less.