The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer

Title: The Cemetery Boys
Author:  Heather Brewer
Genre Type: Horror, Supernatural
Published: March 31st, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen

Part Hitchcock, part Hinton, this first-ever stand-alone novel from Heather Brewer, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, uses classic horror elements to tell a darkly funny coming-of-age story about the dangerous power of belief and the cost of blind loyalty.

When Stephen's dad says they're moving, Stephen knows it's pointless to argue. They're broke from paying Mom's hospital bills, and now the only option left is to live with Stephen's grandmother in Spencer, a backward small town that's like something out of The Twilight Zone. Population: 814.

Stephen's summer starts looking up when he meets punk girl Cara and her charismatic twin brother, Devon. With Cara, he feels safe and understood—and yeah, okay, she's totally hot. In Devon and his group, he sees a chance at making real friends. Only, as the summer presses on, and harmless nights hanging out in the cemetery take a darker turn, Stephen starts to suspect that Devon is less a friend than a leader. And he might be leading them to a very sinister end.

The air suddenly filled. My breath came out in quick, gray puffs. And then I heard it.

When I first discovered The Cemetery Boys I knew right away that I wanted to read it.  I immediately thought of the 80's classic teen-horror movie The Lost Boys and hoped the author gave this story the same vibe of horror, teenage humor and adolescent hormones surrounded by the strange and supernatural. Overall, the story gave me mostly what I had hoped for and ended up being a fun and chilling read.

Feathers, an abandoned cemetery and the darkly charismatic villain.

The Cemetery Boys is centered on the strange mystery that surrounds the small town of Spencer and the legend that seems to have roots in its very beginnings. A story of creatures that seem to be straight out of an urban legend. Our protagonist Stephen finds himself wondering just how much of Spencer's legend is based on truth, and just how do his new friends fit into the story. Led by the darkly charismatic Devon, Stephen soon finds himself part of this rebellious punker group hanging out in an abandoned cemetery. The problem is, rumor has it the town is in a bad way and only a sacrifice can restore the town. With a forbidden attraction to Devon's sister Cara, and the increasingly dangerous actions by his new friends take a sinister turn, Stephen will have to figure out what exactly is the town and Devon hiding.

Something wicked comes this way.

I loved how the story opened up immediately with a flash forward to a very extreme moment that sets the whole tone for the story and makes it clear that there is something wicked that comes this way, and Stephen just might not make it out alive. Dark and sinister, we as the reader, know that there's trouble ahead for the town of Spencer, and in particular it involves Stephen and Devon. We don't know what exactly, but we know it is coming. 

Welcome to Spencer, population 814. Home to a sinister legend. In need of a sacrifice.

The story then takes us back to the beginning where Stephen finds himself with his dad, living in the tiny, rural town of Spencer, population 814, with his slightly angry and eccentric grandmother. For an adolescent teen, a boy at that, life is now over! Teenage boy humor and hormones combine with a supernatural mystery in a fun way. I found myself eye-rolling at some of Stephen's antics when it came to Cara and teen love/lust, but it was all in good fun. What kept me hooked to the story, of course, was what was behind the legend-those creatures mentioned and the knowledge of what was going to lead to that very scene that The Cemetery Boys opens up with. Devon is so dark, I just knew he had a connection, but what?  Heather Brewer slowly closes in the sinister plot, pulling it tighter and tighter, just like an old Hitchcock movie-never completely showing you what's behind the curtain, until the end where you feel yourself grasping at the noose she tightens on you! 

You fascinated me, but I wanted to know what really makes you tick.

My main issue that I had with the story, despite really enjoying the mystery and supernatural aspect, is the fact that I felt the characters needed to be fleshed out more, and in the end they were all a bit vague feeling. I knew in the end, what made them tick, but over the course of the story it all felt a little too surreal, making it hard for me to connect with any of them beyond the surface.

In the end ...

The Cemetery Boys delivers plenty of chilling atmospheres and supernatural mystery reminiscent of the show, The Twilight Zone, with Stephen's voice delivering humor and boy-adolescence to round out this darker story. An unforeseen twist at the end made this a fun and entertaining, horror filled read.

My rating: 3.5-4 Stars. I liked it!

PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by HarperTeen in exchange for my fair review. Thank you, HarperTeen for the review opportunity!