Book Review: On The Day I Died by Candace Fleming

13152672Title: On The Day I Died
Author: Candace Fleming
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Ghosts
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade
Publication Date: July 10th 2012
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Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for honest review.

The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author, Candace Fleming, gives teen and older tween readers ten ghost stories sure to send chills up their spines. Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860’s to the present, and ends with the narrator’s death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago’s rich history—the Great Depression, the World’s Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.

Mike drives home one night, past curfew and already worrying about what his parents will say, when he finds a strange girl standing in the middle of the road. Dumbfounded, he offers to bring her home. The only problem is that her home is in White Cemetery, and that the girl, Carol Anne, has been dead since the 1950s. She’s buried in a special section of the cemetery for children and young adults, and soon her spirit is joined with those of eight other kids. Each has their own story to tell, some saddening and painful, others creepy and eerie.

This book reads like a short story collection. The story about Mike and how he ended up in the cemetery acts like a frame story for the other short stories, much like with The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron. On The Day I Died offers ghost stories, but there’s so much variety in them and the perspective shifts so often you sometimes wonder if you’re reading the same book. My personal favorite story was that of Edgar (Edgar [1853-1870]). It was a slight wink to Edgar Allen Poe, and worked very well. Others I enjoyed were Evelyn [1877-1893] and Tracy [1959-1974]. I thought some of the stories were pretty gruesome, especially for younger readers, but for an oldier audience it works well.

What I really enjoyed about this book however was how there were small bits of truths and facts scattered all around the novel. For instance, in Scott [1995-2012] the main character investigates a haunted asylum, which is actually a reference to Chicago’s very own haunted asylum, the Chicago State Asylum. Another story features notorious gangster Al Capone.

The collection of story has something for everyone. It was a fun read, and since I’m a huge fan of ghost stories, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Something I found a bit annoying was how the character’s voice didn’t seem to change too much depending on who was doing the talking, and how the kids living in the 1800s pretty much spoke the same way as the kids who lived later on. But that’s just a tiny pet peeve. The stories were good, solid and enjoyable. Recommended to fans of ghost stories.

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