Sometimes the scariest thing in a fourteen-year-old’s life is loneliness. Horror Business, by Ryan Craig Bradford, tells the story of Jason Nightengale whose twin brother Brian went missing over a year ago. Brian’s not the only kid absent from the small town of Silver Creek, and nobody knows what to do, least of all Mr. and Mrs. Nightingale.
Obsessed with horror movies, Jason continues to shoot the slasher movie he and his brother wrote together, staring Brian’s girlfriend Ally. But the script is unfinished and Jason’s relationship with Ally is equally undefined. As October races closer and closer to Halloween, Jason’s imagination gets the best of him–or does it? What really hides in the closet or creeps in cemetery shadows? One thing’s for certain, it’s better to sleep with the lights turned on.
I’m not a horror movie fan at all, but I am a fan of good writing and Bradford had me hooked from page one. Horror Business combines intelligence and entertainment into a particularly creepy read. There were a few times in the plot where I found myself thinking “Jason! What are you thinking? Don’t do that!”, but those scenes are all part of the horror genre. Of course the kids go the cemetery. Of course character X doesn’t go to the doctor in time. Those acts of stupidity build the tension until the plot explodes in bloody gore.
A final note about Horror Business is that it’s a very rare YA book that features a fourteen-year-old main character. Probably the last twenty books I read that had fourteen-year-olds were MG, and meant for a grade school audience. Subsequently, the fourteen-year-olds in those books were squeaky clean renditions of what it actually means to be fourteen. I loved that this book–even thought it was fiction–was so real. I feel, as a parent, that freshman should be able to read books about freshman, and not constantly forced to read about eighteen-year-olds due to lack of options. That being said, Horror Business is a book that teens of any age would enjoy.