Title: The Cemetery Sleeper | Author: Susan Griner | Publication Date: September 1, 2014 | Publisher: Saguaro Books | Pages: 170 | Recommended Ages: 10 + | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: Ten-year-old Freddy Persterfield is certain his aunt’s creaky old farmhouse in Tenessee is haunted, and it’s not long before he begins sleepwalking to the nearby family cemetery. Freddy desperately searches for a way to keep from waking in the graveyard, but he cannot stop a vengeful ghost from luring him there. With the help of his wary cousin and his superstitious friend, Freddy looks for remedies to get rid of the ghost named Tump. Can Freddy unearth the mystery of Tump’s death before Tump leads him to the cemetery one last time?
My Thoughts: We first meet 10 year old Freddy Pesterfield when he moves in with his aunt and 12 year old cousin Emily in an old mansion rumoured to be haunted. Strange things begin to happen to Freddy after Emily is dared by Freddy’s friend Matt to sit on a grave in the old Pesterfield cemetery and they discover a tombstone marked simply with “Tump”. The mysterious Tump has a strange hold on Freddy, visiting him in his dreams and drawing Freddy back to the cemetery during his sleep, as his story is slowly revealed. With the help of his friend Matt, an expert on ghosts, and his skeptical cousin Emily, Freddy must protect himself from achieving the same fate as Tump, a ghost intent on switching places with Freddy so he can be among the living once more.
Susan Griner has woven a haunting tale with The Cemetery Sleeper. Through exquisite story-telling, the reader is drawn into the story of Freddy, who we learn has recently lost his Mom, and has moved from the big city of Memphis to the smaller town of Mabry. I couldn’t help but sympathize with Freddy as he has to learn to navigate through his life without his Mom. As the story unfolds, the depth of Freddy’s grief is revealed. I love how the author handled this. Grief (as I’ve experienced it) is not constant but it often lurks under the surface and manifests itself in completely unexpected ways long after we are separated from loved ones. There is a strong underlying message about letting go of the past and moving forward and this is further reinforced as we learn more about the ghost in the story, Tump. This was so well done!
The Cemetery Sleeper features a well-rounded cast of characters and the character development is some of the best I’ve seen in middle grade literature. Aside from the sympathetic character of Freddy, each additional character provides a piece of the larger puzzle from Emily, the cousin whose father abandoned the family years earlier; to Freddy’s only friend Matt, who loves to tell ghost stories (all of which relate back to the main plot); and, to Freddy’s extended family who play an important role in past events as well as hold the key to unraveling the mystery of Tump and his need for vengeance. I felt I was present in the story experiencing events side-by-side with Freddy as they occurred. I loved how the perspective went back and forth between Freddy and Tump. Without giving too much away, I want to simply state: the writing is excellent!
Whenever I would write a paper for school or as an academic, the last thing I would do is assign a title. I can state unequivocally that titles are not my forte. After I finished reading the book, I reflected back upon the title, The Cemetery Sleeper. In the very first chapter, Freddy’s friend Matt tells the story of Jay-Jay who fell asleep on a grave, was swallowed up, and disappeared. I assume that the title The Cemetery Sleeper refers to this story (told within the story). This story plays an important role in the main plot and in fact, sets events into motion. However, by the end of the book, there is a much bigger picture emerging leaving me to feel that “The Cemetery Sleeper” doesn’t reflect the characters, the themes, nor the events of the main plot. Prior to my reflection upon the title, I thought “the cemetery sleeper” referred to Freddy. I just found this a bit confusing but I do want to stress that this is a very minor criticism. Like I said, titles are not my thing!
My Bottom Line: All in all, The Cemetery Sleeper features an intricately woven plot which unravels at the perfect pace to keep the intrigue and suspense high. The character development and the writing itself are some of the best I’ve seen in middle grade literature. I highly recommend this spooky tale for children ages 10 and older.
* This book was provided to me by the author free-of-charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. The author is participating in our Book Promotion Services.*
Early Buzz About the Book
“The Cemetery Sleeper is an engaging young adult novel that is so good, it’s scary. This supernatural novel from author Susan Griner will delight young readers… Even reluctant young readers will love delving into this book. Griner has written a novel that will frighten and entertain readers . ” ~ Ella, Pacific Book Review
About the Author: Susan Griner
Susan Griner is an author of children’s fiction. She has writen short stories and poetry for both Cricket and Babybug magazine. She is currently working on a YA novel set along the Silk Road. She lives in Washington state, but her southern roots have influenced her writing.
* Giveaway *
Grand Prize: One winner will receive a copy of The Cemetery Sleeper by Susan Griner (print version for the US – 2 winners; electronic version for international winners – 1 winner) + a $10 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash prize (winner’s choice).
Second Place Prizes: Two winners will receive a copy of The Cemetery Sleeper by Susan Griner (print version for the US – 1 winner; electronic version for international winner – 1 winner).
Contest ends: September 18, 11:59 pm, 2014
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Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Susan Griner and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.