After his dad loses his job, thirteen-year-old Daniel Anderson moves with his family from Connecticut to West Virginia. Daniel and his seven-year-old sister, Erica, are not happy. It’s not much of a surprise to them that their new town is nothing like their old town. Likewise, their new schools are nothing like their old ones. From the first day, they are treated like they have the plague– when their new classmates are not being rude, they take the time to bully the new kids.
With their parents starting new jobs, the siblings find solace in each other’s company. Their parents tell them to give it time, the other kids will warm up soon enough, but Daniel and Erica know the horrors they face– the students seem to just hate them. Being brother and sister, though, doesn’t mean there is always peace, an argument has to develop at some point, and the Anderson kids have their fair share of disagreements. Daniel spends more time to himself, and Erica spends more time playing with her doll, Little Erica.
When their mom and dad do have some free time, the family takes to exploring the surrounding woods. Upon one such excursion, they discover an old, dilapidated cabin in the woods. The kids are creeped out, but their dad thinks it is a wonderful opportunity to exercise his professional photography skills.
The Anderson family becomes a further matter of curiosity around town because of their house: it is the former Estes home. Little Selene Estes disappeared in the woods fifty years prior and was never found. According to local legend, and local bully Brody, Selene was “took” by a witch called Old Auntie. Old Auntie has a pet named Bloody Bones with a skeletal hog head, sharp teeth and even sharper claws. The ancient witch roams the countryside looking for little girls to take to be her slave…every fifty years. Oh, and the cabin Daniel and his family found, that’s Old Auntie’s house and she’s about ready for a new slave. Erica could be a prime candidate.
For a few weeks last month I went through a period of not finding anything I wanted to read. I started about three or four different books, but quit reading them. Nothing was hitting that October/Autumn sweet spot, so to speak. Then I picked up Mary Downing Hahn’s Took and I was pleasantly surprised.
This was a book my son got from his school’s book fair. I don’t read a lot of YA books (didn’t read many when I was their target audience either); the last one I read was really awful. But Took is a nice little ghost story. It’s not a gorefest or a scare-fest, but it has the crispy leaves, wood-smoke-in-the-air spirit to succeed. I’m a sucker for small towns, backwoods ghouls and rural legends. None of it would work, though, if it wasn’t some quality writing.
Took was my first time reading anything by Mary Downing Hahn, and I enjoyed it. I was quite “took” and plan to read more of her work.