A handyman and his wife live with their two young children Matt and Amber in a pretty large apartment complex. Right off the bat we are alerted to the fact that things aren’t quite right in this household. One, Lynn (the wife) is seeing a marriage counselor behind Harris’s back. Two, both Harris and Lynn undermine each other as parents, catering to one child only. Matt is meticulously neat and clean, quiet, artistic and obviously Harris’s favorite. Lynn, favors her intelligent, kind, loving daughter Amber. Often when one parent attempts to reprimand the other’s favorite, he/she is undermined. One is set to wonder, are these kids seeking to force this friction? Nah…they’re just good sweet kids. Right? Righhhhht…
Things get weirder around the apartment complex after the apartment manager cancels the annual Halloween party citing “liability” issues. The local college student keeps sending bizarre messages to her friend telling him not to come or call her because of the “Halloween Children”…but always at the end of these messages telling him to ignore what she said and please come! The person who lives upstairs keeps stomping around but when Lynn goes up to confront him, he’s a very frail old man. The invalid of the complex begins complaining of a smell “worse than death” that’s only getting worse. Weirdly, Harris can smell it through the phone.
The story is told from multiple points of view and it’s clear that Lynn and Harris aren’t the most reliable of narrators. Both seem to be losing their sanity as the book continues. Lynn begins cursing and spying on the children, rewatching their every move because she “knows” that they are up to something. Harris meanwhile isn’t sure if he’s dreaming or dealing with real life when he is forced to go to an apartment to check on a noise complaint and he finds something very disturbing…only to not see that disturbing thing there in the morning. The kids aren’t doing themselves any favors by holing themselves up in their shared room, playing with knives, chanting weird stuff, and also something SO DISTURBING THAT THE PARENTS DIDN’T EVEN TOUCH THE SURFACE OF HOW IT SHOULD’VE BEEN DEALT WITH LONG BEFORE HALLOWEEN. So anyways, when Lynn effectively cancels both school and trick-or-treating for the two kids because of the “event”, big stuff goes down. What exactly? I’m not 100% sure, because I think I know what Harris saw…but at the end of the book when he’s being interviewed (I can’t get too into without fear of spoilers, I literally have NO CLUE what actually happened).
The tension throughout the book was good. The fact that I couldn’t trust and I didn’t particularly like any of the characters worked well. The gore was very gory…I can appreciate that as a horror fan (if you don’t like blood and guts you could skip about 20 pages and still have a good handle on things)…but what I could not get and apparently neither could quite a few people in their Amazon reviews, was what the hell happened at the end of the book. I would love to know what it actually was…but ultimately the message is, take away Halloween from some kids and shit’s gonna get real. If you’re looking for a short, tense read that doesn’t quite stick the landing, this is pretty ok.