Score: 9.3+/100 (9.3+ out of 10)
Haunted House Day & Night will go down as one of the biggest and best surprises of the season! We did not expect to enjoy and appreciate this book so much!
Maybe it's because we're iching for Halloween on the verge of fall. Maybe it's because we empathize with Mandy (the young protagonist) and her fear of the dark and ghouls, particularly at night. Or maybe it's all of that and the fact that the author/illustrator ambitiously presented us with a well-rounded and engaging children's horror book that actually has a useful and practical message about dealing with irrational fears.
This book introduces us to Mandy, a little girl who has trouble sleeping alone at night because she's afraid of the dark and ghosts. At night, her imagination runs amok, making her fear even worse. Mandy's brother, Kyle, comes up with a great plan to help Mandy to overcome her fears. He proposes going to a haunted house!
So, that is the premise of the book, and it's actually phenomenal. The execution of the premise is even more phenomenal. The narrative takes Mandy behind the scenes of the haunted house during the day with the help of the haunted house's owner, Mr. Holder, who provides the tour. During the tour, Mandy takes note of a lot of the scary masks, makeup, the smoke & mirrors, fog, lighting (and other special effects), the animatronic dragon-like monster that is shown to breathe fire, and even some of the actors (including Mr. Holder himself).
The concept of pealing back the curtains of a haunted house—something that is initially scary and full of mystery—is really fascinating. And it's actually a good lesson for children and adults alike. We all have fears, many of which are irrational. This book encourages the reader to put their fears into perspective, which is something we really appreciated.
This book also does a lot of other cool things like uses neon text to add emphasis to parts of the reading. It's also very bright, colorful, and appealing. It can be a bit overwhelming at times, but it's not too bad. Seriously, we'd rather the book be full of content rather than be sparse and dry-looking.
Now, there are a few things about the illustrations that hold it back a little bit. For example, there are certain things in this book that stylistically don't look anything like the other things on the page (or on other pages). For example, some of the mice in the haunted house look like they were from stock art while the rest looked hand-drawn. Another example are the zombies and Mr. Holder's werewolf costume, which look like stock art compared to the rest of the illustrations. The raccoon on page 40 is another example.
There are also times when the human characters look like infographics like on pages 32 and 33, and other times when the human characters look detailed and awesome.
Despite all this, this book is still outstanding, and we really loved and appreciated what the author was trying to do.
Check it out on Amazon!