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All Hallows' Eve: 13 Stories    by Vivian Vande Velde order for
All Hallows' Eve
by Vivian Vande Velde
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2006 (2006)

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*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Vivian Vande Velde’s collection of thirteen scary stories, All Hallows' Eve, is the perfect younger teen read for Halloween – but not really for any other time of the year. One of the biggest downfalls of the stories in this collection is that they all take place on Halloween. While I can understand that the author did this to tie the tales together, having spooky things happen on nights that are not supposed to be creepy would make for scarier tales.

This is not to say that the stories are not eerie, in fact, some are thrilling. Morgan Roehmar's Boys, Cemetery Field Trip, and Holding On are suspenseful, scary ghost stories - not to be read at night by those with overactive imaginations. Best Friends has a unique format that keeps the reader guessing until the end (it involves the dangers of coming home from a Halloween party). My personal favorite, How and When, has a very creepy atmosphere and keeps the reader enthralled, even though the twist is easily guessed.

As mentioned, one of the main problems with this anthology is that all the stories take place on Halloween night. This leads to a reccurring theme of the dangers of driving (or walking) home from a Halloween party. Yes, car accidents are a very real horror, but having a third of the stories deal with automotive related deaths is overkill. The author could be cautioning against unsafe driving, but this aspect is not played up enough in the stories for it to really make an impact on the reader.

Another problem with many stories is the twist. Though some are good and creepy, others come out of left field, leaving the reader wondering what just happened. In fact, one very enjoyable story, Pretending, is ruined by a scary twist in the last sentence. If it had ended a sentence sooner, it would have been the best of the collection. On the other hand, My Real Mother is saved by the twist at the end. Up until this point, it was a so-so story that I couldn't get into. However, the twist was so twisted - and seemed to come out of nowhere though looking back, there were hints along the way - that it made the story worth reading.

All in all, Vivian Vande Velde's All Hallows' Eve is an enjoyable read for Halloween, but only for Halloween.

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