This weekend my goal was to read five books. I only got to two, but at least they were the Halloween ones. One of those was The Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink. It seemed like it was going to be a strong, semi-spooky Halloween romp. Some creepy trick-or-treaters, a little bit of the “you’re too old to go out trick-or-treating” and maybe I don’t know, a monster chasing them, but it is really just a bad dream. It was that. And not like that. I still liked it, even would have liked it as a kid as I was a reader who never liked horror but could do a good thriller and/or mystery. Supernatural was okay if it was “realistic” and “believable.” And even though there is a Queen of Halloween, her spooky trick-or-treater minions (called it!), and a Dream World, I would categorize this as believable as they are still “human” with human names and characteristics. Even if they are throwing apples and flaming pumpkins at people.
Quick warning: the apples have razor blades in them. They sprout out of the apples, cutting the hands of the holder, and Dan (one henchman helping the Queen/tossing the apples) says, “You have to know me! They tell stories about me.” So, the seasonal old wives tale of razor blades found in apples is obviously alluded to. And Ed’s pumpkins are on fire. But somehow, that seems less creepy maybe because I grew up on that myth of blades in apples and know that my mom was worried about that kind of thing.
But that aside, this book is about growing up, friendship, family and yes, Halloween. They all come together in a story about change (the growing up, the growing too old for trick-or-treating, becoming old, even death, seeing people differently when you bother to look and learn about them) and the joys of that change. Even if there are bumps, bruise and flying killer apples that come with it.
There are a few side stories that come into play. One is about racism that was a bit forced at times (the main character, Ester, is Jewish and a big deal is made of that, and the bully is Asian, and her bullying is “justified” by saying she is bullied herself, so she tries and hurt someone else, like she is hurting). However, my biggest issue is there is a character introduced, given an important role in the helping of Ester and friends, and the why is never explained. Kid me would just let it go; adult me want to know what is going on!
And maybe your kid aged 10 to 14 would let it go, or maybe can let me know who they think they are.