Monday, June 12, 2023

The Bellwoods Game by Celia Krampien

Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Doll Bones , this spooky, highly illustrated middle grade novel follows a girl who hopes to fix her outcast status through a game in the haunted woods, only to discover that some legends shouldn’t be played with.

Everyone knows Fall Hollow is haunted. It has been ever since Abigail Snook went into the woods many years ago, never to be seen again. Since then, it’s tradition for the sixth graders at Beckett Elementary to play the Bellwoods Game on Halloween night. Three kids are chosen to go into the woods. Whoever rings the bell there wins the game and saves the town for another year, but if Abigail’s ghost captures the players first, the spirit is let loose to wreak havoc on Fall Hollow—or so the story goes.

Now that it’s Bailee’s year to play, she can finally find out what really happens. And legend has it the game’s winner gets a wish. Maybe, just maybe, if Bailee wins, she can go back to the way things used to be before her grandma got sick and everyone at school started hating her. But when the night begins, everything the kids thought they knew about the game—and each other—is challenged. One thing’s for something sinister is at play…waiting for them all in the woods.

Kindle Edition, 317 pages
Expected publication July 18, 2023
 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
3.5/5 stars

This is my first time reading a book by Celia Krampien. While preparing this review, I discovered that she is a Canadian author, who resides not far from me, which just further enhances the fact that Canada has a lot of talent in the literary field.

It was the cover that drew me to this story and my love for middle grade fiction, I love the longer stories with depth of character and adventure.

In The Bellwoods Game, Bailee is a sixth grader who is set on completing a task that will rid the town of bad luck for a year. It follows the legend of Abigail Snook, who went into the woods and was never seen from again.

The Bellwoods Game is a story with supernatural elements, adventure in the outdoors, friendships and misunderstandings.  There are 3 that go into the woods, they are taking on a journey that brings about revealed secrets, trust and healing of old wounds. But there is also strange obstacles in the way.

I enjoyed my reading time, though geared for young readers part of me wonders if it might be a bit overwhelming, scary for some younger ones or those a little bit sensitive. Coming in over 300 pages it is a nice size with some wonderful illustrations along the way.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster CA, via NetGalley, for a digital arc in exchange for a honest review.

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