At some point, the head noise of adult life dulls out a vital sense that kids know deep down in their bones: sometimes what you’re looking for is also looking for you.
Charles “Charlie” Ward is almost 13, and newly-made man of the house after his father’s recent death in a suspicious hit-and-run “accident.” Charlie’s a Chicago kid who’s looking forward to losing his troubles in a summer of video games, horror novels, ghost stories, and baseball with his friends, until certain doom hijacks his plans: a family vacation in the Ozarks with his mother and annoying eight-year-old brother, Alex. But the summer has its own plans for Charlie, who finds himself headed for Crooked Hills, the most haunted town in America, and home to Maddie Someday, a spirit who wanders the woods at night, in search of children she find by the blood-red light of her ruby ring.
Cullen Bunn, who has written for Marvel and DC Comics, Wildstorm, and IDW, is also author of the horror noir series, The Damned, The Sixth Gun, and Like a Chinese Tattoo. His new juvenile fiction series, Crooked Hills, is a cobwebby trap-door that suddenly appears in the ceiling of your clean, new, suburban home: a portal for children to climb into the ghostly back rooms and hidden spaces of supernatural fiction. And unlike the recent turn that tween supernatural fiction has taken into bodice-ripping, fashion-conscious, narcissistic soap-opera, Cullen Bunn delivers the real goods: worms, spiders, headless chickens fleeing bloody axes, kidnapped little brothers, and girls with slingshots who can track ghost dogs by moonlight.
Crooked Hills is a series you’ll want to kid to read, or better yet, to read together, because all horror and supernatural fiction fans know that the prickling, shuddersome feeling that comes from a good ghost story is no cheap thrill, it’s a vital connection to something larger and and deeper and more shadowy: a key to what’s haunting you.
Forthcoming in February 2012: Cullen Bunn’s,“Creeping Stones and Other Stories.” Individual stories to appear digitally leading up to book’s release.