Booklist Online

Return to Daemon Hall: Evil Roots.

Nance, Andrew (author).

Illustrated by Coleman Polhemus.
July 2011. 256p. Holt/Christy Ottaviano, hardcover, $16.99 (9780805087482). Grades 7-10.
REVIEW. First published August 1, 2011 (Booklist Online).

It’s been less than a year since Ian Tremblin (an author in the R. L. Stine mold) held an overnight haunted-house writing contest for teens that went horribly awry. Having learned no lessons from the legions of horror sequels out there, Tremblin tries again in this follow-up to Daemon Hall (2007). Two surviving teens return to help judge three new contestants, with all attendees spinning creepy yarns for entertainment—and, eventually, survival. The tales, of course, vary in effectiveness but overall come through in the most important criterion: shocker endings. Perhaps the best two tales are saved for last: one about a radio shock-jock whose reward to a loyal listener is a bit of a surprise, and the other about a tattoo collector who doesn’t just collect the artwork but the skin it’s printed on, too. Between the stories lies connective tissue about the teens discovering the truth behind the haunting of Tremblin’s estate. An efficient delivery of the gruesome goods, goosed along by Polhemus’ spooky illustrations.— Daniel Kraus