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The Zombie Awakening: A Haunted Mystery


The Zombie Awakening: A Haunted Mystery

When Zack notices a portrait in his new school watching him, he knows this academic year will feature a few ghosts. In this third Haunted Places mystery, Zack is getting used to being able to communicate with spirits, but is still finding himself in the middle of puzzles caused by living humans as well. Chris Grabenstein keeps the humor and mystery going at high levels in this fun series with plenty of surprises.

Zack’s father had attended Horace P. Pettimore Middle School years ago, and now the Principal does not like Zack. The ghosts of the Donnelly brothers, who were burned to death in a corridor, want Zack to play campfire. A janitor then disappears, and Zack’s old ghost friend Davy reappears. No one really wants to eat lunch with Zack, who has a lot to sort out here.

In his previous two novels, THE CROSSROADS and THE HANGING HILL, Zack’s mystery-solving skills resulted in his house burning down, near-escapes from death for himself and others, saved lives, and more. He’s wary of getting too involved in this mess, but it’s clear that some evil is at work in the school. “Guardian” ghosts for each student come to warn him about danger and advise him not to tell any adults. Readers will be clued in on the evil plot to find a descendant of the school’s founder who will help bring dead people back to life and locate a rumored treasure underneath the school. Could Zack be that descendant?

As he starts talking to spirits and humans to uncover what is going on, more misfits at the middle school begin banding together at lunch and throughout the rest of the day to help each other navigate the already stressful life of classes and homework. Add bullies, ghosts, zombies and treasure hunters, and soon they have to rely on each other just to stay alive.

Zack’s cool stepmom Judy can also see spirits, so she and the local librarian try to research the history of the school to help Zack find his answers. He learns that another student is the descendant and tries to warn her when she disappears. A few adults students trusted show their true colors, and a race through secret tunnels underneath the school leads to an exciting climax.

One strength of these titles is the colorful cast of supporting characters, both humans and ghosts. While Zack himself is a layered yet strong hero, he and his friends are realistic even amid paranormal activity. THE SMOKY CORRIDOR is another strong story in this award-winning series that will leave readers more than satisfied and eager for the next installment.

Reviewed by Amy Alessio on August 9, 2011

The Zombie Awakening: A Haunted Mystery
by Chris Grabenstein