If you are looking for a good Halloween read for you middle school kid (or for yourself), I heartily recommend Ghost Hunt: Chilling Tales of the Unknown (Little Brown 2010) and its sequel, Ghost Hunt II (2011). These books, written by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, the ghost hunters of the television show Ghost Hunters, are fictionalized accounts of actual investigations. It's not clear exactly where the line between "fact" and "fiction" lies, which I found a tad vexing, but what is clear is that these are exciting and spooky stories, guaranteed to make the young reader shiver!
Stories include a ghost ship, wrecked anew every August of the coast of Maine, a drowned boy anxious to reveal where his body lies tangled underwater in the roots of tree, restless prisoners of Alcatraz, and many, many more. The framework for these stories is the investigations conducted by the Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS). Free of charge, TAPS investigates ghosts--answering calls for help from those who are troubled by restless spirits. They arrive on site, set up their ghost hunting equipment, and conduct their paranormal detective work...uncovering many poignant, and scary, stories in the process.
What makes the fictionalized stories included in these two anthologies more than just creepy ghost tales is that TAPS actually adopts a scientific approach to the question of ghosts. Efforts are made to rule out natural explanations for creepy phenomena--small critters rustling in the walls, banging shutters, strong electromagnetic fields generated by appliances that can make people feel ill. The TAPS team does their field investigations first, and then the historical research, so that suggestions from the latter don't influence what they see during the former. The techniques they use during their investigations are presented in detail at the end of the books, along with step by step instructions on how to conduct a ghost hunt, and test cases where the reader can put the knowledge and tips provided by TAPS to work. My own scientifically-minded 11 year old ate up these parts of the book (and he enjoyed the stories as well).
I still don't believe in ghosts (although I certainly can't offer rational explanations for some of the phenomena reported in these stories). But these spooky encounters did make for gripping reading. I just wish that it had been made clearer in the text that the stories are fiction--it says "fiction" on the front flap, but you wouldn't know from reading what's inside that these weren't entirely factual accounts.
Here's the Ghost Hunt website, where you can peruse more ghostly evidence at your leisure....
(another one for me to contribute to the RIP Challenge, where you can find many more scary books for your seasonal reading pleasure--this was the 542 review of the link roundups!)
disclaimer: review copies received from the publisher