Hallow’s Ween by Rex Jameson
Genre: Horror (Recommended for MG)
Talented teenage witch Chloe Hallow seeks the heart of the love of her life, but when her attempts at a normal conversation fail, she falls back on what she knows best: alchemy. The resulting spell leaves an indelible stain on the small magical community of Squirrel Hill, but every year, her enduring legacy touches the world.
Hallow’s Ween is a 13,500 word short story that details the surprising, magical origins of one of our most beloved holidays.
The essence of this story reminds me of the creepy yet innocent horror of Goosebumps. Chloe is a girl who wants nothing more than to spend forever with her crush, Jacob. “Be careful what you wish for” is the motto here. Chloe gets exactly what she asks for, which is not at all what she wants. The twist is predictable if you’re paying attention but no less creepy than if it wasn’t when it actually happens. I would say that the actual story part of this short story is great MG horror. I would definitely read another short in this genre by the author.
I think that the prologue and epilogue harmed this story. The effort made to make this book seem non-fiction made it feel less real to me and its shortcomings more obvious. According to the prologue, this is an story of how trick and treat and Halloween began, but the story was written very modern. The dialogue and references are modern. The Wiccan religion didn’t exist until the 1930s (it was called something different prior to then) while Halloween and trick or treating has been around for centuries.
I’m torn on what to rate this story. There’s talent in the art of writing horror from this author. I think with some further editing (either remove the historical implications or make it more historically accurate) this could be easily a 4 or 5 star short story. For now, I’m going to rate it a 3 and recommend that fans of MG horror only read chapters 1 to 5 to maximise the creepy-factor. Ignore the prologue until after you read the story.
*Please note that there is a newer update for this book than I based my review on. I haven’t had the chance to read the changes, but I’m told that some of the issues addressed in this review are fixed.*
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About the author:
Rex Jameson is the author of the Primal Patterns series of novels and the Perspectives series of novelettes. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife Jenny and a cadre of psychotic calicos who sometimes ambush him in his sleep. He recently earned his PhD in Computer Science from Vanderbilt University and is thoroughly nerdy. Rex is also an avid movie buff who likes to torture his wife with practical jokes and inappropriate public displays of affection.
(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.)