Author: Nancy Gray
Genre: Horror, Middle Grade
Release Date: October 26, 2018
“You will face a difficult task in the future. The card is reminding you that every person has a part of themselves they like to hide. Even when times are hard, you must not lose yourself.”Ian frowned as Mrs. Marcas read his fortune. The school Halloween carnival was supposed to be the highlight of Halloween, but something about the card he picked seemed ominous. As he headed for the storyteller, things quickly took a turn for the worst when the school bullies chased him into an abandoned house. Inside, the children with EMPTY EYES decided to make Ian their friend. A black living mass twisted and coiled in his chest and closed in on his heart. Time was ticking away with every infected beat, and if Ian didn’t act quickly he really would lose.
I'm a sucker for a good horror story. When I saw that Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes by Nancy Gray was available for review, I knew it was a story I would be interested in. Luckily, it was a great read.
Empty Eyes is a short read, and the chapters are also fairly short. Combine that with a book that has great pacing, and you've got the recipe for a winner. I found myself so enthralled in this book that I never wanted to stop reading. I was always wanting to know what would happen next. Not once did I find myself becoming bored with Empty Eyes, nor do I think it's too fast paced where it becomes difficult to understand what's going on. The pacing was perfect and consistent throughout.
This is a middle grade novel, and the world building suits this age group. Even though I'm not in the middle grade age group, the plot still felt realistic and spooky! There were a couple of plot twists which I enjoyed, and all my questions were answered by the end of the book. Everything is explained perfectly throughout the book for a middle grade student. Nothing was dumbed down either. I did enjoy the plot immensely. Ian is at a school carnival one night when he encounters some bullies. Desperate to get away from them, he runs into an abandoned house. While hiding in the house, he is confronted by two children wearing gray hoodies with black eyes. They want to be Ian's friend, but Ian is terrified. The children decide they will be Ian's friend regardless of if he wants them too. He develops a black mark near his heart that pulses. Grown ups can't really see the mark, but Ian and his best friend can. Soon, Ian is behaving in a way that he never has before. Will Ian ever return to his former self or are the black eyed children controlling him?
I found the characters in Empty Eyes to be enjoyable. They also acted their age instead of coming across as sounding younger than their actual ages. I think many children (and adults) can relate to the character of Ian who is constantly bullied in school. I admired Duane, Ian's best friend. I loved how loyal he was to Ian throughout the whole ordeal. The black eyed children were very creepy characters, and I was really impressed with how they were written.
Trigger warnings for Empty Eyes include some swearing, some violence, thoughts of murder (although this isn't graphic), sneaking out, and bullying.
All in all, Empty Eyes was a very enjoyable spooky read. Even though it is written with a middle grade audience in mind, I found myself really getting pulled into the story. I would definitely recommend Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes by Nancy Gray. I believe any age group aged 12 and above would find this story to be a creepy read that will draw them in immediately from the very first page and not let go until it's over.
(A special thank you to Lola's Blog Tours for providing me with an eBook of Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes by Nancy Gray in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)
About the Author:
Nancy Gray has published a number of works including her young adult fantasy series Blood Rain. Her short story “Chosen” appeared in Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal Author Quest: a Penguin Special from Grosset & Dunlap. Her work also appears in various anthologies.
Nancy Gray has been writing for over ten years. Gray lives in South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys books, video games, anime, manga, and horror.
Other Works by Nancy Gray:
Spine Chillers: The Scarecrow
Spine Chillers: Big Bad Wolf
Spine Chillers: The Beast of Black Pond
Spine Chillers: Empty Eyes
Spine Chillers: The Firefly