Clay is a young adolescent whose parents have recently died in a fire, and he is sent to live with some rather crude relatives in upstate New York – far from his home in Florida. Clay has the misfortune of having a large port wine birth mark on his face which subjects him to cruel bullying. The bullying existed in Florida and began immediately upon his arrival in New York. Much to his surprise, he does make friends with a group of boys he meets in the woods. One problem, though – these kids are dead. Here is where Faherty really gets rolling with his story. First, the ghosts have “depth”; they are interesting kids in their own right. The actions and behavior of the ghosts are also unexpected as Faherty breaks some of the overused conventions associated with ghost stories. The story navigates surprising dark territory that I did not see coming, and I thought the conclusion was not only chilling but creative.
One other interesting feature of the story: the author addresses the problem of bullying in a manner that doesn’t cheapen the trauma of those who have been victims. In fact, the accounts in the story highlight the issue and bring it to life (so to speak). I was very impressed.