Cover Image: The Crooked Door

The Crooked Door

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Stepford Wives meets Children of the Corn meets Stranger Things with a few episodes of Twilight Zone tossed in the mix. Goosebumps to the next level! The tension and pacing of this book will keep middle grade readers engaged and wanting to know what happens. It’s a modern day hero’s journey with young girls in the lead roles, taking place in creepy small-town America.  All the elements are there - the wise sage, the journey into the underworld, the assistant, the main character giving up something they love and then facing their fears to get it back.
Was this review helpful?
Read the full review on my blog, linked here:

The Crooked Door is a middle grade horror novel by Brad McLellan and Louis Sylvester. This is an upcoming release, scheduled for April 2023 from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and I'm glad I did because this was a fun one! The story follows Ginny, a young girl in the middle of a move with her parents from Kansas to Nebraska. When car trouble strikes they wind up in Pottsville, a little town that seems like an oasis. Little do they know the danger they're in and that it'll be up to Ginny to solve the mystery of the thing behind the Crooked Door.

Oh, this was a fun one, my friends. My poor coworkers once again had to put up with me gushing about this book, and I really can't wait to recommend it as a Halloween read or to my lovely patrons who are into "actually scary books" (said in a serious tone, of course). I'm a huge horror fan, so I'm really happy that I got to read a fun, straightforward story like this one. I think other horror fans will understand when I say that it's trope-y but in all the best ways. I definitely recommend it if you enjoy Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

The only complaint I have about this book is that for as much fun as I had with it, there's a lack of description for Ginny that's a bit disappointing. I'm not sure if this was intentional or not, but I'm a bit disappointed by it because the default in children's literature is white. Without specifics, we're left to assume that Ginny, her parents, and everyone she interacts with in town is white. You might make the argument that because the story takes place in Kansas that it's to be expected (or that a lack of description is a way for the readers to imagine Ginny's background for themselves), but in 2022 I think it's important to ask for more from children's authors - even ones with a story as good as this one!

Despite my gripe, this book was genuinely so fun. I truly can't wait to have it hit our shelves, as it's going to be a regular recommendation for kids who look under their beds for monsters. This book is highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
Loved it! I'm new to YA, so I wasn't sure if this would be too bland or restrictive in content, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it well written, intriguing, creepy, and quick moving.

In the beginning, the set up didn't seem very original. But the story quickly blossomed and continued to do so as it moved along. Most of the characters were forgettable but the MC was a strong female lead and I always enjoy those. With her leading the charge, I didn't care that most of the cast blended together. I also liked the bogies and the town itself. By the time you were gearing up for the finale, the suspense was palpable. Parts of the closing were a bit cheesy, but the final (cliffhanger) made up for that.

Though it is categorized as YA and children's horror, this read just like my adult horror novels, minus the foul stuff, of course. There's no cursing, nothing bloody, no drugs or sex. And yet, this is an exciting and spooky story throughout that should delight the young and old. I would love to see it adapted for TV someday. And if there does come a sequel, sign me up to read it.
Was this review helpful?
From lullabies to masked gang of “bikers” this is a great quick read for and teen wanting an adventure with a bit of horror!
Was this review helpful?
I think my new favorite genre is middle-grade horror. It's the perfect amount of suspense/horror without making me too scared to sleep at night. THi was a really fun read with monsters and new towns, and a great mystery. I loved the characters and setting. It was well written and had a pleasant flow.
Was this review helpful?
this was a great horror novel for a young adult, it was what I was looking for in this type of book. I was hooked from the first page to the end, it had a great plot. The authors had a great writing style and it weaved a great tale that was interesting and keeps you engaged. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and wanted to know more from them.

"As I shut Bernard’s door, I noticed my hands were shaking. All the fear and rage I had felt the night before was still alive in my bones. I glanced at my face in the truck’s side mirror and didn’t even recognize myself."
Was this review helpful?
I think RL Stine writing the endorsement for this book is perfect - this reminded me of a little Goosebumps or Spooky Stories to Tell in the Dark (longer of course) with Little Shop of Horrors vibe - but this isn’t about a plant, it’s a Crooked Door.

Ginny and her parents are leaving the panhandle of Oklahoma (my hometown area) through Kansas on their way to Nebraska, when they come to an unusual traffic stop. They are encouraged to try a shortcut through a field, which leads them to an unusual town, called Pottsville. Ginny notices immediately that things are not normal. There are lots of toy shops and things for kids, but there aren’t any cars and signs are held up by plant structures. 

“You’ll be free to do whatever you want in Pottsville. No school, no parents. You can play all day.” Ch 21

Her spooky senses are right - the town isn’t what it seems and that trip to Nebraska that she didn’t want to take is looking better every minute.

Students who like a spooky story will not be able to put this down, because one thing leads to another, as the Dirge draws them in.

I love that Ginny is a mechanic, and knows how to fix cars! She was not rescued bc of her beauty, but her skills. There is also an interesting sub-plot about a fairy-tale like story from Germany and some German phrases throughout.
Was this review helpful?
Life is full of choices, and Ginny Snell quickly learns that all of her actions in Pottsville have consequences. Readers won't be able to put this book down until they figure out what is going on in this mysterious town. Just remember don't knock twice, but if you do knock all wishes come with a price.
Was this review helpful?
A perfect scary story for middle grade readers!  My students are always asking for scary stories and this will be a new one for me to hand them.  The main character is a girl but the book will appeal to all students.  The cover is misleading, the main characters are not animals or animal/human hybrids.  The animal heads are in fact Butzemann masks and only worn in part of the book.  Butzemann is the German word for boogieman or a demon or ghoul.   Hand this book over to your scary story readers and they will come back to you for more!
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this book, and I think middle grade students looking for creepiness will LOVE this. There are clues throughout the book that lets readers, and Ginny (the lead character) know that things aren’t what they seem to be. I will definitely be purchasing this for kids!
Was this review helpful?
The Crooked Door hooked me from the very beginning!  Ginny and her family are moving but are detoured to Pottsville, where nothing is as it seems.  Ginny faces antagonists all around her, but the most formidable is the Dirge.  Will she ever be able to escape this town’s grasp?

Suspenseful, creepy and intriguing—all characteristics that will keep readers glued to the pages!  My middle grade ELA students are going to devour this when it is released!
Was this review helpful?
I enjoy a good horror story, but my limits are more of the "Are You Afraid of the Dark" 90's variety, so middle grades horror always hits that sweet spot for me.  When I was given the opportunity by NetGalley to read an e-Arc of The Crooked Door, I really liked the cover.  It reminded me of Stranger Things, and the animal masks promised it would have a creepy, sinister quality.  I wasn't wrong.  This story started off strong and kept the action moving in a surreal town that seems to be run by children, and offers things that are too good to be true.  

This was just scary enough, and never veered off into a moral or preaching tone like some middle grades horror stories have been known to do.  It was perfectly creepy, very imaginative, and almost a modern-day fairytale.  I loved this and can't recommend it highly enough for librarians and classrooms.
Was this review helpful?
This one was surprisingly creepy, especially if someone just looked at the cover image and not the description. I will have to see where my readers are next spring when it releases... if I was a middle school librarian this would be a collection addition, for sure. Will need to revisit for elementary.
As much as I prefer regular text (just like it is), I can really see kid readers enjoying this as a graphic novel.
Was this review helpful?
Middle grade horror is always hard to write as you need the right balance of scary but not too scary for your audience.

This manages to capture that perfectly. (Not to say you could read this in the dark!)

I was intrigued by the cover and, after reading the synopsis, knew I had to pick this one up.

I love the background and history of Quaint Pottsville and how well it's all laid out in the story. It really adds to the whole atmosphere of the book.

There are definitely some creepy moments riddled throughout the book - beware readers, not all is what it seems.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review! The Crooked Door was such a fun read for me. I loved the creepiness throughout the book, and I think my two favorite parts of this book was first the relationship with Ginny and her mom, and how the way she viewed her mother evolved as the story went on. Secondly I loved the concept in general, and thought it was so cool.
Was this review helpful?
This is quite an entertaining scary story for middle school readers. It is a bit creepy, and may require reading with the lights on, but that's OK. Ginny is moving with her parents to Nebraska, which makes her very unhappy. On the drive there, the family experiences a detour, a mysterious storm, and truck trouble, ending up in Pottsville, a seemingly nice little town. Upon further investigation, though, Ginny senses all is not right with the town or its people, who are primarily kids. A great deal happens during the story, which I think is a bit too long, especially for the intended age group. Ginny learns some hard lessons during her ordeal, not the least of which is that she really does love her parents. Thanks to NetGalley, Macmillan's Children Publishing Group, and Henry Holt and Co., for providing an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Five very creepy stars! Wow, what a story!

Ginny and her parents are stuck in a quaint small town when their car breaks down. Ginny immediately realizes that things are not what they seem, even when "friendly" kids take her on a tour through town. I don't want to spoil anything, but literally NOTHING is what it seems, and everything revolves around a mysterious Crooked Door.

I loved the world-building here. Quaint Pottsville has a deep history that goes back generations and spans continents. There is also a very creepy "be careful of what you wish for" element running through the novel.

Is it too scary for middle grade readers? It's the same level of horror as Ellen Oh's 'Spirit Hunters,' so I definitely think it's for older middle grade readers. That said, I'm not the targeted demographic, and I couldn't put the book down. So I definitely recommend adults read it too!

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
I received an ARC in exchange for my honest review.


What a great read! I've been deep into middle grade and YA horror/thriller/fantasy books as of late and this one was just a delicacy.

Moving away from her home, much to her dismay, Ginny finds herself in a strange little town after a dust storm and car breakdown. Right away, she senses there's something not quite right about the town... And, boy is she right.

I don't want to give away the plot, but things aren't what they seem and things are quite sinister. I can definitely see how young readers might need to leave the lights on after having read this one. But, there's also something delightful about the story too. Scary and alluring.

As an adult reader, I found it eerie and enjoyed watching the story unfold.
Was this review helpful?
After finishing The Crooked Door, I’ve been sitting here thinking what an absolute delight it was to read. I’m 60 years old, so far away from the intended age group. Still I’m not so far away that I don’t remember the things I wished for as a child.  There’s definitely a lesson to be learned in this epic tale, and the adventure of getting to it was wildly entertaining!

Congratulations to the authors on a novel that is unique and magical in every good way. Thank you to NetGalley for an early copy of this delightful story. This is my honest and unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?