The Halloween Moon: book review
This year, Halloween has come to stay – forever.
The Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink perfectly captures the essence of Halloween – a great, seasonal, young adult novel that is innovative and suspenseful. Fink, co-author of Welcome to Night Vale, puts his writing chops to the test for his newest novel, where he channels themes of spooks and the adventure amongst the most unlikely of friends.
Halloween is Esther Gold’s favorite holiday. Every year, she makes three Halloween costumes just to be prepared for school, trick or treating, and a back-up just in case the other two fall short. This year, Esther’s parents have pulled the plug on letting her trick or treat. As Esther has just had her Bar Mitzvah, her parents believe it is time to make room for younger children to trick or treating. Furious, Esther is determined to deceive her parents, with the help of her best friend Agustin, and go out for another year of trick or treating.
Unfortunately, Esther’s evening is filled with more tricks than treats, as she is faced with creatures from another land as the Halloween Moon blends the barrier between two worlds. Esther is thrust into the Halloween Dreamworld, where she must escape from the Queen of Halloween and her tattered army of stolen trick or treaters. There, she must ally with her school bully, Sasha, and Mr. Gabler, her neighbor with a mysterious past who is now the local dentist, to retrieve her little sister Sharon, who has been stolen by the Queen of Halloween.
Fink, known for his terrifically terrifying plots, does not disappoint. The characters stay true to their roots in the spirit of being middle schoolers heading into high school. Esther, Sasha, and Agustin demonstrate hardships in coming-of-age issues such as tackling school bullies, accepting religious beliefs, and identifying difficulties in communicating with parents. At the same time, they continue to dodge the obstacles the Queen of Halloween and her henchmen throw at them. It balances very real-world, relatable issues while including unique scenarios.
The intriguing characters reel you in right at the very beginning, where Dan Apple and the trick-or-treaters begin with the bank robbery. The mystery continues when Esther sees Dan’s brother, Ed Pumpkin, driving an ice cream truck converted to sell pumpkins. Some cliché plotlines are exercised, like Dan Apple being “the brain,” while his brother Ed is “the Buff.” Other cliché character relationships are exercised, such as Esther and Sasha’s hateful relationship resulting in friendship and Esther and Agustin’s relationship resulting in romance, but this didn’t totally diminish the story’s appeal. One of my biggest criticisms of the novel, however, is that plotlines that are not answered just leave it unfinished, which leads to disappointment rather than adding to the element of mystery.
The Halloween Moon is a wonderful new novel that is an easy read after a long day of classes. It’s fun and keeps you on your toes from one action-packed event to the next. Quirky side characters and loveable protagonists equate to a whimsical and wonderous world that The Halloween Moon blends. While some plotlines remain unfinished, it is still well worth a read for with an overall well-done and flowing story line. If you are getting eager for the Halloween season, this is the perfect book to get you in a spooky mood.