By GLENN TOLLE
Both my mom and my best friend collect dolls and have entire rooms dedicated to them. Given that I’ve been surrounded by them all my life, I’m not afraid of dolls. Still, if I found one hidden away in a (supposedly) haunted room, and if that doll’s eyes involuntarily glowed red… I’d be very afraid.
In this week’s edition of FRIGHTS FOR TYKES I will be recommending THE EVIL ONE, the first book in the PHANTOM VALLEY series, written by Lynn Beach, and published by POCKETBOOKS in 1991.
Monica Case is an inquisitive and athletic girl who gets transferred to Chilleen Academy after her father, an architect, gets a last-minute job in Italy. Electing not to follow, Monica instead goes out west and enrolls in a school that her aunt likes, a school located in Phantom Valley.
Monica loves the school and all the history that comes with it, even if its history tends to be a little creepy. Chilleen Academy is said to be haunted by the Chilleens, a Pioneer family with terrible luck. At first Monica isn’t frightened by the ghost stories, she just finds them interesting. But then she discovers an old doll stashed away in a small compartment that the renovators painted over. Who’s doll was it? Was it Allegra Chilleens doll, one of the Chilleens who tragically died and now haunts the Academy?
This ghost story manages to stand out from the pack, in part due to its detailed writing, and in part due to its endearing protagonist. Monica Case is believable, likable, and genuine. She reads like a few people I was lucky enough to grow up with. What’s more, her love of the past allows the reader an immersive experience. This passion plunges the reader head-first into the regional history that informs the ghosts in Chilleen academy and Phantom Valley.
You can buy my edition of THE EVIL ONE on AMAZON for $5.12, plus free shipping, used, in “Very Good” condition
The PHANTOM VALLEY series deserves to be rediscovered. THE EVIL ONE is a perfect start.