CAMP MURDERFACE by Josh Berk, Saundra Mitchell

camp murderface by josh berk, saundra mitchellCamp Murderface follows Corryn Quinn and Tez Jones as they are heading to Camp Sweetwater for the summer. Enthusiastically, at first: Corryn wants to put some distance between her and her soon-to-be-divorced parents; Tez wants a break from his overbearing, overprotective parents. Their enthusiasm soon evaporates into the ether, though, as they quickly find that the macabre myths surrounding the camp may be more than true.

“This place is cursed,” he says, not looking at me. He stares deep into the distance. I waggle my eyebrows. “Look on the bright side. Curse is just another word for magic,” I say.

Reading Josh Berk and Saundra Mitchell’s foray into the world of middle grade horror was just an absolute blast. Like most of my favorite middle grade novels, it reminded me of the stories I consumed (and was consumed by) in my childhood, while simultaneously feeling thoroughly modern, with witty, whip-smart characters, and incredibly vivid, chilling imagery. Corryn and Tez shine as protagonists, and their budding friendship is one of the most realistically realized portrayals I’ve read in recent memory. It helps that both Berk and Mitchell are great at writing kids: Corryn and Tez read like real, actual preteens — down to being entirely too clever and perceptive for their own good at times.

But I must make special note of the imagery mentioned above. Mitchell and Berk write brilliantly eerie visuals, with some passages being striking enough that they would not feel out of place in, say, one of the more particularly lurid entries in the Fear Street series.

The nurse stands in front of the sink, frighteningly still. She hunches over it, her shoulder blades so sharp that they look like broken wings. And that’s not all that’s wrong with her. Her hair is loose and wet. It hangs heavily around her head. Dark, wet beads slip from her hair onto the floor, all the way around her.


The drops puddle on the floor around her feet, forming a dark lake. Too dark to be water. It’s not water. It’s deep red. It’s—

Excellent, creepy goodness all around. Summer Spooks is off to a great start.

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