**(out of four stars)
Martin lives in Farnham, a place where nothing exciting ever happens. His cousin, Raleigh, is too wrapped up with his girlfriend, Lissa. At one time Raleigh and Martin were close, always up for a good prank to pull on someone. It seems now that Martin is left to his own vices.
Much like most small towns, small talk and rumors seem to be the most interesting thing going on. One such rumor was of Old Man Tomlin, who one day, just up and left his wife, Elfirda. It was said that Tomlin left to join the army and after some time of not returning it was thought that he may have died as a soldier.
Meanwhile a preacher, Brother Wade comes to town and talks about how the souls in purgatory will rise on All Hallows' Eve and ascend to the heavens. And during that sermon Elfirda looked awful distraught. Would she finally get to see her missing husband as he went up to the pearly gates? Was he even dead?
Elfirda is kind of an old naggy women and Martin gets the bright idea that he'll dress up like her husband and scare her on All Hallows' Eve. He wants Raleigh to join him, but the boy turns him down and thinks it's a bad, distasteful prank. Martin decides to go through with the prank all by his lonesome. He dresses up to look like a ghost and goes up to Elfirda's house.
Once he's up there he begins hooting and howling like a ghost; tapping on the walls, trying to scare the old woman. It's apparent that either she's not home or she's just ignoring the prank. But what Martin fails to realize is Elfirda sneaking up behind him. It's too late, as she brings a rock crashing down upon his head. Her final words are, "Drat, I killed you once and pushed your body in the stream to rid myself of you. Why would I want to say goodbye again?"
I very much liked the twist ending. Elfirda proves to be a murderous wife and now poor Martin, who she supposes is her husband, is dead. It kind of reminded me of a Tales from the Crypt episode where the villain seems to always get what's coming to him. A morality play of sorts.
I'm not entirely sure at what point in history this story comes from. The dialogue and the writing makes me think of some where in the past, maybe the Victorian era? It was a pretty fast read and made my bowel movement an enjoyable one. Again the characters are paper thin, but the back story is what interested me and kept the pages turning. I feel that Vande Velde does a pretty good job with keeping the important points of the story prevalent, while the characters seem secondary. I can live with that as long as the story comes to fruition with a decent ending.
Another pretty good story worth checking out.
Author: Vivian Vande Velde
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.