Wow. Not too much to say except for the most part this was enjoyable. The book drags at times and the character development beyond a few people wasn’t really there, but this was a good representation of young adult horror books from the late 80s/90s.
So “Trick or Treat” follows 16 year old Martha. Martha’s father has recently got married and is now moving him and Martha to move in with his new wife and his stepson in the town of Bedford. Martha hates the scary old house that they move into, and when she finds out that almost a year ago (Halloween day to be exact) a young girl was murdered in her bedroom, she’s ready to move back to Chicago. A voice keeps calling Martha and saying “Trick or Treat’ and telling her she’s going to die.
So Martha at times I thought was bratty. I get it though. Her father got married without even telling her and moved her and him from Chicago to a small town in the middle of nowhere. The house is a mess, her stepmother can’t cook, and her father then rushes off to Hawaii for an assignment and dumps the kids alone. I did laugh a few times how often it’s mentioned the parents haven’t called. I know this book was written in 1989, but seriously though, I can’t imagine my parents taking a weeks long trip and not calling the house once. Martha is kind of hysterical though and tries to do some amateur sleuthing with her new stepbrother Conor when things keep happening in their home.
Conor is kind of annoying I thought, and at times it seems as if Cusick was implying that Martha had a crush on him and vice versa. Probably because Martha keeps calling Conor her stepbrother and correcting anyone that called him her brother.
Martha makes friends with the Chambers family which consists of Blake, Wynn, and Greg. Greg is a teacher at Bedford and hangs out way too much with his teen cousins, Blake and Wynn. So outside of these three people, Martha and Conor don’t interact with anyone else in the town.
I got a creepy vibe from Blake and from Greg too. Who hangs out with teens and tells one of them how pretty they are?
The parents are barely developed beyond being selfish and we hear third hand accounts about the girl who was murdered and her ex-boyfriend who stands accused of killing her who disappeared.
I thought the writing was a bit disjointed in parts and the flow needed to be a bit cleaned up. That said, this is a different type of book and I rated it based on that. Young me who read this at the age of 9 (the age this was published) would probably have been scared to death the whole time and had nightmares for weeks.
The setting of Bedford was definitely creepy and hearing about the backstory of the Bedford family and the young girl who was murdered really set the mood for the book. I wish that Cusick had given us more details on Bedford. I am still puzzled if this is in the mid-west or not. I also wanted to know more about other people in the town adults, kids, etc. There was bare bones with regards to developing this past enough to keep readers engaged with Martha’s story.
The ending was a surprise to me though and kind of gruesome. I think it definitely echoes the types of YA horror that was coming out that time though.