Saturday, November 27, 2021

Review: The Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink

by Joseph Fink
Release Date: July 20, 2021
2021 Quilt Tree Books
Kindle Edition; 288 Pages
ISBN: 978-0063020979
Audiobook: B08N2ZSXMT
Genre: Fiction / Juvenile / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher
3 / 5 Stars
Esther Gold loves Halloween more than anything in the world. So she is determined to go trick-or-treating again this year despite the fact that her parents think she is officially too old. Esther has it all planned out, from her costume to her candy-collecting strategy. But when the night rolls around, something feels . . . off.

No one is answering their door. The moon is an unnatural shade of orange. Strange children wander the streets, wearing creepy costumes that might not be costumes at all. And it seems like the only people besides Esther who are awake to see it all are her best friend, her school bully, and her grown-up next-door neighbor.
My Thoughts
The Halloween Moon is a cute and fun book, but there is not a lot of depth to it. The main character, Esther, is rather obsessed with Halloween and pretty much lives her life thinking about how to celebrate the next Halloween once the previous one has passed.  I don't have an issue with it, thought it was rather cute, until I discovered her age.  I love Halloween as well, but I enjoy the creepy and macabre to begin with, and it's those aspects of the holiday that I enjoy, the stories, the movies, the fright, etc... Going trick-or-treating just to collect candy that you don't really want to eat just seems sort of silly. But if that's what you like, then why not?
First of all, I liked the characters in the story. Esther Gold was not always a likeable character, but that suits me just fine as there is potential to develop a character like that which is exactly what happened.  There were times the author allowed Esther to reflect on her own behaviour towards others and she realized she was not always the victim in a lot of situations; many times she could have handled things differently or looked at things from a different perspective.  I do wish the author had taken the time to develop these reflections a bit more, especially in terms of the two relationships that developed in the story as they would have felt more real with that development.  When enemies become frenemies then friends, you have to buy into it, and you have to believe in it as well.  I liked Esther's friends and thought their growth, along with hers, would have been a lot of fun. Her parents though? They must hate Halloween. The author never did give a good reason for their behaviour however, and the 'you are too old' argument didn't really work in this story. It was a bit jarring. Mr. Gabler though, was the best thing about this book.

The plot itself was pretty generic, although I think I am basing this more on the author's other works which are a bit more creative and original.  While interesting, I just felt like there was something missing, some major excitement, and I wasn't as invested in the outcome as I should have been.  It's not that there weren't elements of creativity and originality, because there were, and there were some really good parts.  It's just when you put the whole thing together, it doesn't seem to work and I can't seem to put my finger on exactly what it was. Perhaps my biggest issue is with Esther and her age as she doesn't really feel like a 13-year-old and I had to keep reminding myself she was older than I thought. I'm also not against exploring puberty and feelings and whatnot, but it just seemed so out of place in this book as well.

The Halloween Moon is one that I thought would be interesting simply because there are not a lot of Halloween books for this age group.  Unfortunately, the writing style used was more descriptive rather than dialogue based which made the reader feel detached from the action and the characters.  And the book didn't really have the creepy factor that I think some young readers would like in a book like this; the villains were more silly than creepy.  While I would not necessarily recommend this one, I would recommend his Welcome to Night Vale Episodes. Overall, while this definitely contained some of the author's writing that I love and I enjoyed the concept, I do think he struggled with that fine line between adolescent and child which made the writing style awkward and disjointed.



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