I will admit that this is my first Mary Downing Hahn novel that I have ever read. I had been thinking that her novels were too light for my taste but after reading this one, I believe that I might have been wrong. I started this novel right before going to sleep but I ended up staying up way past my bedtime and then I got up way too early so I could finish it. The real obsession I had with this novel is that I dreamt about it. I didn’t dream about the ghostly presence that is inside the novel, I dreamt about the altercations between the individuals in the novel. I was filled with fervor, passion and desire at what was transpiring in the novel.
This novel was fast-paced and I loved it. It began with Elise taking claim to Annie, the new girl, when she arrived at school. Elise becomes obsessed with Annie, not even allowing her to have any other friends besides her. Annie breaks away from the domineering and manipulative Elise after Elise doesn’t come to school for a few days. Annie becomes friends with Elise’s arch enemy Rosie (and her posse) and boy, things get intense quickly. It’s funny how fast Annie turns on Elise, telling her to leave her alone and casting her aside now that she has new friends to hang out with.
Influenza is hitting their town hard, closing down the schools and shops and killing a handful of individuals daily. With their days free, the girls get the notion to attend wakes of individuals in town. I found this idea, twisted and hilarious, at the same time. They have motive for their actions and they begin to enjoy their outings, sometimes attending a couple wakes a day.
Rosie and Elsie have a horrible relationship and as the girls’ spot Elsie one day after a viewing, the In Flew Enza chant which was created by Rosie, shows just how rotten and awful things have progressed to, between these two girls. I found the chant creative when Rosie first came up with it. They’d jump rope to it, singing it as the rope looped over their heads but now as Annie, Rosie and her small group of friends gathered around Elise, holding their hands together chanting the words, the chant sounded horrid. Over and over, the tune going faster and faster, all the while, Elsie is yelling at them to stop as they circled her. The taunting and the traumatizing that was occurring was a memorable visual for me. Bullying, so much bullying between these girls. I’d love to tell you more about the novel but I don’t want to spoil it. I will say, the energy and the intensity does not let up until the very end. I was so happy that I woke up in the middle of the night to finish it. This will not be my last Mary Downing Hahn novel. I highly recommend this novel.
I am using this novel for my Chilling Children square for Halloween Bingo.