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Karen Chilton

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The Haunting on Devil's Den Road
by Karen Chilton   

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Books by Karen Chilton
· The Ghost at Widower's Pond
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Category: 

Young Adult/Teen

Publisher:  Snug Harbor Press ISBN-10:  0982057504 Type: 
Pages: 

240

Copyright:  January, 2007 ISBN-13:  9780982057506
Fiction

Don't fall asleep in Heather Hollow. Hauntings happen here.

Barnes & Noble.com
Ghost Girls Books

Paige Parker can’t wait to turn fourteen. Thirteen is definitely not her lucky number. Since her thirteenth birthday, her life has become a nightmare. Uprooted from her lifelong home in the city of Providence, Rhode Island, she’s now living in a run-down farmhouse in the rural village of Heather Hollow, afraid she’ll die of boredom.
Paige soon finds boredom is the least of her worries as she realizes there’s already someone in residence in her new home: a ghost girl who died more than a century ago! The ghost seems to have a connection to Mercy Brown, the infamous vampire buried in a local cemetery.
Paige enlists the help of her friend Amelia to try to sort out all the bizarre aspects of life in Heather Hollow: there’s a clique of mean girls on mopeds, a goth girl with an interest in historic cemeteries, a cute boy with an uncle ostracized for his study of time travel, and an ancient librarian protecting a secret.
There’s also the Something that is lurking in the woods nearby. Something not quite human, but not quite animal, either. Something hungry—able to hunt through time—unstoppable even by death.
Can Paige uncover the truth about her strange new home in time to save herself from a terrible fate? Or will she become another casualty of the evil that lurks in Heather Hollow, Rhode Island?


Excerpt

Chapter One

Home Sweet Home?




The house was a disaster.

Paige climbed out of the rented moving van and stood in the driveway, staring at the place. This made it official: her mother was out of her mind.

“I know what you’re thinking,” Liz Parker said from behind her daughter, “but it’s not so bad. You just have to picture what it will look like when we’re finished with it.”

She put her arm around Paige’s shoulder. Paige ducked quickly out of the embrace.

“Right,” she said bitterly. “And that would be, what? When I’m thirty?”

She walked away from her mother, toward the house. She felt slightly guilty for barking at her mother like that, but she didn’t look back.

The house was a typical New England farmhouse, large and rambling, except that this one looked as though no one had cared for it in about a hundred years. It wore clapboards, caked in lead paint and curling back at the edges. There was damage under the eaves, from water or maybe fire; it was difficult to tell which. The windows were small and narrow, comprised of tiny panes of leaded glass, some of which were broken. Paige’s mother had pitched the house to her as having “charm” and “character,” which Paige now realized meant that, really, the place ought to be bulldozed.

Then there were the thirteen acres of land the miserable excuse for a house came with. Paige had no concept of how much land thirteen acres was until just that moment, when she stood on the steps of the place she was now supposed to call home. She realized she couldn’t see their neighbors in either direction. She was smack in the middle of nowhere.

Paige moved uneasily forward. Her mother had already propped the front door open, which was a good thing, because half the doorknob was missing. There was a nail jammed through the fixture in its place. She stepped into the entryway of the nasty old house. There was a smell, of mold or dust or some combination of the two. Paige wrinkled her nose as she surveyed the mess.

The interior of the house was as decrepit as its exterior suggested it would be. Stained wallpaper hung in ribbons from the walls, exposing the damaged horsehair plaster beneath. The light fixtures looked ancient, and they sported only bare bulbs with no decorative globes to cover them. Cobwebs occupied every corner within sight. Paige thought her mother had been here to clean before the move, but she must have been mistaken.

Their larger pieces of furniture had been delivered earlier in the day and sat haphazardly here and there. It was a strange and unsettling thing, seeing their belongings so randomly placed in an alien setting. They had all had a fixed place in their home in Providence for as long as Paige had been alive: the sofa, the old chest that served as a coffee table, the book cases, the lamps. She stepped around the sofa and between the book cases that lay on their sides, creating an aisle through the mess. Her mother’s books were piled here and there, thick volumes on architecture and historical restoration she’d used in teaching her classes before going on sabbatical this year.

What a bad idea it had been for her mother to stop teaching, Paige thought yet again. What a bad idea all of this was. She flattened herself to pass more boxes stacked in a doorway.
Rounding the corner, Paige was stopped by the sight of her father’s massive oak desk. It had taken six men to move it from the Providence house, and Paige had not been able to watch. It had reminded her of the pallbearers carrying her father’s casket at his funeral.

Slowly, Paige extended a hand toward the surface of the desk. She ran her fingers lightly over it, feeling the grain of the wood beneath her fingers. She was struck by a sudden memory, of sitting at this desk beside her father, pretending to do homework, even though she’d only been in kindergarten at the time and had no real homework to do. Her pencil had gotten caught in the grooves of the wood grain, poking holes in the sheet of paper. Her father had gently lifted the paper up, had slid his blotter in front of her so she could write on an even surface. Then he’d gone back to his own work and Paige had scribbled happily along beside him.

Now Paige jerked her hand back from the desk as if bitten. Her eyes were tearing up and she wiped at them roughly.

She hated all this change, hated the way it all left her forever on the verge of tears. She turned abruptly, knocking over a stack of boxes and spilling papers and books everywhere. Her father’s papers and books. She thought her mother had put most of that stuff into storage. Paige bent and quickly began scooping loose sheets into a pile.

“Ouch!” she cried, feeling the sharpness of a papercut at the tip of her index finger.

She brought her finger instinctively to her mouth, but not before a drop of blood fell onto the page she’d been handling. They were notes, in her father’s cryptic script. As she sucked on her injured finger, letting the pressure ease the pain, she took in the lines she could read.

“...believed that the actions of the community could serve to summon the Hounds of Hell. What if, however, the evil of those actions actually created those Hounds of Hell?...”

Weird, Paige thought. Her father was an anthropology professor. His work involved cultures, people. Why was he taking notes on “Hounds of Hell?” She pushed the papers into a pile and tucked them back into the nearest box. She examined her finger, which still stung but was no longer bleeding. She started to leave, then stopped. Glancing around nervously, as if she were stealing something, Paige took her father’s papers and tucked them under her arm. They’d get lost in this mess for sure, she told herself. She’d just keep them safe in her room.

Her room. Paige looked again at her surroundings, considering the idea that she was supposed to live in this dump. She shuddered, then ran up the stairs to have a look at her new room.

The plan was to renovate the house while living in it, with Paige’s mother keeping a journal that would become a book about the process. Living in the mess while they chipped away at the restoration was key, Liz Parker insisted, but she had made one notable exception. As part of her largely futile campaign to make Paige feel positive about the move, Paige’s room had been finished beforehand. Liz had come two weeks earlier to paint–a light violet shade for the walls and a deep purple for the ceiling–and to hang curtains that Paige had chosen from a catalog.
Paige had been happy enough with her choice at the time, but now she wasn’t so sure. The curtains were a white, gauzy material with dragonfly appliqués and they seemed babyish as she looked at them there against the violet walls. She was thirteen, after all. It was about time to grow up.

“Paige?” her mother called from somewhere downstairs. “I’d like to get those boxes unloaded, and it’s starting to get dark. We haven’t got much time.”

Paige sighed. She was so sick of this move, of everything about it.

“Coming, Mom!” she called. She scanned the room, looking for a place to stow her father’s notes. She settled on an open box near her bed, dropping a sneaker on top as a paperweight.

As she turned to leave room, she felt a sudden chill. She rubbed her arms. Was her sweatshirt in the house or the truck? She couldn’t recall. She went down the hall and noticed that the air felt warmer.

Just a draft, she thought. Another lovely aspect of this miserable old house.

She jogged down the stairs and out the front door. In no time, she had warmed up from the effort of carrying boxes into the house. The sun sank lower in the sky as she and her mother went about their chore in silence. Evening was falling on Paige and her new home in the village of Heather Hollow, alarmingly far from everything she knew in Providence. Rhode Island was a tiny state, but at that moment it felt as large as Texas.

She paused outside in the dusk, recalling the lunchtime conversation she’d had with her friend Amelia about the move.

“Heather Hollow?” Amelia had said. She bent her head forward so her glasses fell to the very tip of her nose, then she peered over the top rim at Paige. “Tell me your mother is not serious. That’s vampire country.”

Paige had laughed. She couldn’t help it.

“Vampire country?” she asked.

Amelia had a habit of reading strange, obscure books and developing strange, obscure ideas as a result.

“Seriously, Paige. I’ve got this book. I’ll lend it to you. It tells all about this girl in, like, the eighteen hundreds or something. Mercy Brown. She was a vampire, a real vampire. She sucked the blood out of her own family and everything. They had to dig her up and cut her heart out to stop her. And Heather Hollow, that’s where she’s buried.”

Paige was intrigued by the idea of a girl vampire, but she didn’t want to encourage Amelia.

“It’s just a hick town, Amelia,” she said. “A speck on the map. I’m going to be so frigging bored I’ll wish for a vampire, just for some excitement.”

“Seriously, Paige. What did you say is the name of the street you’re moving to?”

Paige smirked. “Devil’s Den Road.”

“Right. So you’re moving from Hope Street in a city called Providence to Devil’s Den Road in vampire country. Is there any way this could be a good thing?”

Paige leaned across the lunch table so that she and Amelia were nearly nose-to-nose.

“No,” she pouted. “There’s nothing at all good about this move, beginning with the fact that you and I are going to be apart for the first time since we were, like, born. But what choice have I got?”

“Just don’t go. Tell your mom you want to stay here, just for high school. You could live with me. I mean, I’m sure my parents wouldn’t mind. They’ve got, like, five billion kids already, and I know they wouldn’t want you to get your blood sucked out or anything...”

Now, standing in vampire country, Paige shivered. She rubbed her arms and looked up at the house, its windows now glowing warmly in the early evening.

It was the movement of the curtains in her bedroom that first caught her eye.

There was a flutter of fabric, and then, when she looked up, a silhouette there in the window. Paige wondered what her mother was doing in her room.

The hand that gripped her shoulder made her heart leap.

Paige whirled around.

“Mom!” she cried, confused as she faced her.

Her mother looked just as startled as Paige felt.

“How did you do that?” Paige asked sharply.

“Do what?”

“Get down here so quickly,” Paige stammered.

Her mother looked puzzled.

“Down here?” she asked. “I’ve been in the back of the truck for the last ten minutes, trying to find the tool box.” She lifted the tool box in her hands. “Mission accomplished. I want to at least get our beds put together so we can get a decent night’s sleep.”

“But... I saw you,” Paige insisted. “Just now. Upstairs.”

Her mother shook her head.

“I’ve been out here,” she said simply, and started back toward the house.

Paige looked up at her bedroom window, trying to ignore the way the hairs on the back of her neck were standing on end. There was no one there, just the stark yellow light that shone more brightly in the darkness that had now descended fully.

But there had been someone there.

She was sure of it. She had seen someone inside the house, someone who had paused to gaze out the bedroom window in the same split-second that Paige had looked up. Someone who had disappeared awfully quickly.

Somehow, bed or no bed, Paige doubted she’d be getting a decent night’s sleep.




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Reader Reviews for "The Haunting on Devil's Den Road"

Reviewed by LK Griffie 9/23/2010
I happened to run across this book last year at the Orange County Kids Book Festival. As a girl, I loved ghost stories, and the premise for the book intrigued me, and I knew I had to give it a read. Somehow I missed the vampire reference on the back cover and while I love ghost stories, I’m much less happy about reading a vampire tale. But I still gave it a whirl and I’m glad I did.

Paige Parker is thirteen years old and striving to deal with major changes in her life; the death of her father, a move from her childhood home, and dealing with a mother who is coming apart at the seams. The home they move into is a wreck in Paige’s eyes, and there is no way it will become a home. And worst yet, she ends up having a ghost in her room. Not that she knows it’s a ghost from the start. She just knows there are some awfully strange happenings around Heather Hollows.

Now, standing in vampire country, Paige shivered. She rubbed her arms and looked up at the house, its windows now glowing warmly in the early evening.
It was the movement of the curtains in her bedroom that first caught her eye.
There was a flutter of fabric, and then, when she looked up, a silhouette there in the window. Paige wondered what her mother was doing in her room.
The hand that gripped her shoulder made her heart leap.
Paige whirled around.
“Mom!” she cried, confused as she faced her.

The next morning, after a particularly bad nightmare, Paige decides to put her room in order, but first wants to grab a bite to eat. She puts her iPod on shuffle and Sarah McLachlan fills the room. Next up is a song by Modest Mouse, but as Paige starts her breakfast, the song changes…back to the Sarah McLachlan song which just finished. Figuring the issue is with the iPod, Paige checks it upon return to her room, selects a Coldplay song and again, mid-song, the iPod changes back to Sarah McLachlan. Either her iPod is possessed or there is a ghost with a penchant for Sarah McLachlan — living in her room!!!

Paige’s best friend, Amelia, comes for a visit and the two girls start to uncover the secret of the ghost in the house, and discover the hounds of hell are loose and hunting Paige as well. Paige begins to wonder not only whether she will figure out what is going on, but whether she’ll survive long enough to do so.

Karen Chilton pens an exciting tale weaving the current world of Paige Parker with the past world of Patience Hazard, the ghost. The plot twists should keep the target middle grade audience turning the pages from start to finish. As an adult reading the tale, I did find a few minor inconsistencies which broke me out of my suspension of disbelief. For example, Mercy Brown, the historic vampire of the piece, was said to have been dug up and her heart cut out to stop her from taking more victims. At the time the coffin was opened, the rumors said her hair and nails had grown, and yet at the same time, there were marks on the coffin lid as evidence of her getting out. As a child reading the book, I may have missed the significance of that, as an adult, I did not.

Overall, The Haunting on Devil’s Den Road is an entrancing read, and perfect for its intended audience.



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