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The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery

Review

The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery

Zack, the boy who reluctantly communicates with ghosts, is back for his fourth adventure in this humorous yet page-turning series by award-winning author Chris Grabenstein. Zack is not looking forward to Halloween --- with good reason.

Everyone knows that the veil between the dead and the living is very thin on that day, and he’s well aware he’ll be seeing a lot of ghosts. But he doesn’t realize that the 12 notorious Icklebys buried in the local cemetery have a grudge against his family. And they are ready to find him to settle the score.

In THE SMOKY CORRIDOR, Zack learned that his father used to have his unusual gift when he was younger, too. He knows that the gift disappeared when his father was 13, after his aunts took him to a local herbology store for a certain milkshake. Zack’s father has invited the three aunts to pay them a visit. He doesn’t mind seeing them; it’s the visiting ghosts who are becoming upsetting, including the one of his deceased mother, who was not kind to him while he was alive. He is also seeing his Grandpa Jim, who is warning him of danger coming.

Zack and his friends realize that ghosts are different on Halloween, as the first Ickleby is able to physically attack him in the hardware store. Usually ghosts just pass through people, but this one can strike out and damage entire aisles of the store. Zack asks his mysterious great aunts for help, and sees them freeze and disperse the ghost. They vow to take down the entire Ickleby family of ghosts, many of whom were murderers and thieves in life.

The last time the three sisters tangled with the Icklebys, they trapped them in a heart puzzle and sealed them in a crypt. But Zack’s friend Malik released the puzzle by accident, and it ends up in the hands of a local man who is a descendant of the Icklebys.

The leader, Barnabas, was reputed to be a good man in life, but through research, Zack and his beloved stepmother, Judy, begin to suspect he was Jack the Lantern, a horse-riding marauder who snatched children for ransom or worse. Barnabas takes over the local man, Norman, and starts him on a crime spree. No one in the town knows who is behind this except Zack and his friends and family. They do not know if they have enough skills to stop the murdering ghost in his new body, but Zack has not shied away from danger yet.

Chris Grabenstein fills his characters with plenty of humor and realistic situations, even among the ghosts and mysteries. Zack is believable as he fights demons --- living and post-living --- and readers will be drawn in to find out what happens. This is a strong series to be enjoyed by both boys and girls, as well as adults.

Reviewed by Amy Alessio on August 23, 2011

The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery
by Chris Grabenstein

  • Publication Date: August 28, 2012
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 0375873015
  • ISBN-13: 9780375873010