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City Of The Dead (The Haunting Of Derek Stone) by Tony Abbott
Cover Artist: Alex Eckman-Lawn
Review by Gayle Surrette
Scholastic Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780545034296
Date: 01 January 2009 List Price $4.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Derek Stone is a fairly normal fourteen-year-old -- slightly overweight, a good student, very level headed, and not into fantasy and make-believe. He and his father and older brother, Ronny, live in New Orleans. His father is a train buff and Ronny and Derek have been avoiding the yearly trek to a train convention. But this year they all go together. It's on the way home that Derek's life changes for ever. The bridge collapses and the train crashes. Derek's father and brother are missing and presumed dead. That is until, Ronney is brought home to the house by the police. Ronney is not acting like himself but then he's been on his own for weeks. If Ronney came back could his dad be alive also?

Of course the careful reader, will be thinking, "Wait a minute, this can't be right." The fact that Ronney doesn't seem to recognize his home or his brother and is cold and as hard as rock would be a clue to most of us. But, remember Derek doesn't believe in all that fantasy, magic, illogical nonsense.

Abbott manages to keep the reader involved and interested as he brings his main character to believe in the unbelievable. Not only has Derek got to open his mind to possibilities that the world might encompass more than he thought, he has to figure out how to fight these forces and bring order back into his world and make the city safe for everyone.

Derek is an unlikely hero. However, he is a likable one, and he has the intelligence, grit, and determination to make him believable to us, the readers. This is the first in the The Haunting of Derek Stone series and ends with a bit of a cliff hanger. The second book, scheduled to be published last month is Bayou Dogs.

Marketed as young adult, there's enough layers to the story to be enjoyed by a wider range of age groups, including adults. If read to younger children, be prepared to talk about the topics of death and the afterlife.

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