The Weirdville series by Majanka Verstraete is her answer to growing up reading classic scary story writers such as R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike. While putting a fresh spin on some classic horror stories, she is able to weave a tale that will send shivers down your spine and make you want to leave the lights on. This series is great for kids in the middle grades and up. Book 1 is The Doll Maker.
Derek’s little sister wants one of those creepy-looking dolls, staring at him from the strange new doll shop in town, and what his sister wants, she gets. Now they’re stuck with a doll that looks so human, it gives Derek the creeps.
When Derek tells his friends, Martin and Jamie, about the new shop with creepy human-like dolls, they want to see for themselves. That has “bad idea” written all over it, but he takes his friends there anyway.
They meet the mysterious doll maker, who reminds Derek of Dr. Frankenstein, and who brainwashes Martin into buying one of those scary dolls. Derek and Jamie push and pull Martin out of the shop, but something isn’t right with their friend. He’s shivering all over, and he has no memory of what happened in the shop.
Martin’s condition worsens every day, and Derek’s sister grows more and more obsessed with her new doll. Derek and Jamie have to find out what’s going on, and fast, because...
...the doll maker seems linked to a bunch of mysterious disappearances, and the last thing Derek wants is his sister, or his friend, being next on the doll maker’s list.
This first book is a great introduction to this series! For me, these books are really short, only taking me about a half hour to read. There is just enough horror thrown in to keep it creepy, yet not so much that it is too much for kids to read. Majanka has found a good balance between scary and overkill, which is important when writing for a middle grade crowd.
The idea of lifelike dolls and a creepy shop owner isn't a new one, yet this book tells its own version in a captivating way that keeps you intrigued. I have been reading horror stories since the young age of 9 and don't often get scared, yet had a little knot in my stomach from the thrill of the ride. I knew where the story was going to go, but wanted to know how it came to its conclusion. I could predict the twists, but didn't care, because it was still well done. My inner child was screaming in delight, because I would have been all over these books at a younger age.
If you are someone who is terrified of creepy dolls, then obviously this book isn't for you. If you are a fan of scary stories that make you chuckle in nervousness, get started with this one. At only 99 cents, it is a great deal. You can buy it from Amazon or directly from the publisher.
**I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.