Title: Curse of the Black-Eyed Kids | Author: Corey J. Popp | Pub. Date: 2017-7-31 | Pages: 298 | ISBN13: 9781545259320 | Genre: Young Adult Horror | Language: English | Triggers: An arachnophobic scene | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration
Curse of the Black-Eyed Kids
Fifteen-year-old Abby doesn’t believe in ghost stories, but even she has heard the infamous schoolyard legend of the black-eyed kids. Born from a sensational Mount Herod murder mystery, the legend says beware the ringing of the doorbell in the middle of the night and the sudden appearance of two school-aged children pleading to be let in.
Abby and her younger brother live an unconventional yet dull life with their grandmother, but when it’s their doorbell which rings next, their lives are turned upside down as the torment begins. Forced to come to grips with a new reality if she wants to save the lives of those she loves, Abby must enlist the aid of a mysterious young man known only as the cemetery boy to untangle a dark curse dating back 4,000 years.
Curse of the Black-Eyed Kids Review
Curse of the Black-Eyed Kids suffers from a bit of tried-too-hard-itis. That’s the best way I can think to describe it. I feel like the author got caught up by the idea that good writers need to phrase things very eloquently and infuse great meaning into them. The main female character is supposed to be fifteen years old, and I just can’t buy it. The prose is too adult, and at times too lofty, to sell the character. The little brother, Jeremy, is a bit more believable, but conversely he seems too young. (Although I will say that does seem to have an unstated explanation.) So, given those are the two primary characters, it proved difficult to lose myself in the book at times. I did like the grandma, though.
Popp’s talent is still present, and the basics of the story he tells in Curse of the Black-Eyed Kids are good. He builds suspense very well with the introduction of the black-eyed kids. The action in the book moves along swiftly. At the end of the book he reveals that certain elements are mostly if not completely fictional, and I was surprised because I thought there would end up being a bit more truth to them! I also like the fact that he seems to be creating his own ‘Derry’, and I wish it was something I saw more horror writers do. I don’t necessarily want to read sequels, but I wouldn’t mind more books set in an established ‘world’ without being directly related.
Until the kids actually start talking, I was rather creeped out by them. Unfortunately, the very first time the black-eyed kids talked, I ended up giggling. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the reaction I was meant to have. My reaction to the kids thereafter varied between giggles and discontent. Curse of the Black-Eyed Kids falls prey to some of the cliches in horror that can make it boring. For example: of course the kids speak in a ‘deep’ voice (they’re creepier when they sound like normal kids!). There’s also this established talk of ‘the rules’. I think it was supposed to build up the scare factor in some way, or maybe make the protagonists feel a certain way, but… No. Instead, the overly formal speech combined with the repetition just made me sigh. Again, it just felt like the author was trying too hard.
I wanted to love Curse of the Black-Eyed Kids. Corey J. Popp’s first work, Beneath Claire’s House, was fantastic and I adored it. But I don’t feel nearly the same affection for this book. I’m going to put a large part of this down to the fact that it is his sophomore work, and many authors state how hard it is to do the sophomore novel. The second novel always seems to have a set of problems specific to it.
For beginning horror readers, Curse of the Black-Eyed Kids is a solid lite introduction to the genre. All of the traditional elements (of clean horror, at least) are present. The story premise is a creepy one. There’s a good amount of tension. The very definition of clean horror means you aren’t going to be besieged by sex, cursing, and/or drugs. It’s worth checking out.