THE MISSING SEASON | Gillian French
05.21.2019 | Harper Teen
Rating: 4/5 stars
The town of Pender is haunted by several disappearances of children that have happened over the years. They all seem to occur around October and the Halloween season. If you ask the other kids living in the former factory town they would tell you these kids have all been victims of the Mumbler. They would tell you that if you don’t make the right offering up to the Mumbler, come Halloween, you could be next on the list.
This is the story Clara, the new girl in town, learns from her recently acquired circle of friends. There’s Bree and Sage, who have embraced Clara as their own. There’s Trace, who just can’t seem to stay out of trouble and has started a Halloween-themed prank war. There’s Kincaid, the mysterious skateboarder that Clara can’t take her eyes off. Clara’s not buying the story about the Mumbler. When strange things start happening around her, Clara can’t help but wonder who is behind it all. Could the Mumbler be more than just legend?
Mumbler, Mumbler, in your bed,
Mumbler, Mumbler, take your head,
Eat your nose, gobble your toes,
And bury you where the milkweed grows.
THE MISSING SEASON focuses on Pender’s most recent arrival, Clara. Her family has moved from town to town, as her father searches for work. Typically Clara keeps to herself and resists making any bonds, but Pender is different. She wants to have friends and a group to hang out with, which is exactly what she finds in Bree, Sage, Trace, and Kincaid. They’re a group of kids who don’t abide by the social norms of school. They’re a group of outsiders willing to take Clara in as their own. I loved the way that French shaped this group of friends. The reader gets to know each of them individually by dipping into each of their personal lives through Clara, as she gets closer to each of them. Everything about Clara and her friends feels very organic and not forced. Despite being high schoolers, their interactions are still very relatable for an older audience.
As Clara starts to get closer to her new friends, the mystery of local legend, the Mumbler, comes to the forefront of the story. This is where things start to get creepy. There are strange incidents in Clara’s room at night. Has someone been her house? There is an overwhelming feeling of being watched. Is there someone following the friends through the woods? Could is simply be paranoia? I love the way French takes the town of Pender and drops the reader into the heart of this small town’s secrets. Clearly adults don’t want to talk about the disappearances that have happened over the years, but this secret has come to drive stories and myth within the youth community.
The first part of THE MISSING SEASON is a slow-burn build-up to a more thrilling ride. When a local girl goes missing, things instantly ramp up and the pace of the story takes off. I loved the way French chose to build the creep factor regarding the woods and the Mumbler. I would have loved to see more, but I understand that this book was written for a young adult audience, so that may not have worked. The woods and the small town work perfectly to create an atmosphere that simultaneously brings the reader into the story, while also making you want to get as far away as possible from this area.
I usually stay clear of the young adult genre, but there was something about the synopsis of this book that I couldn’t resist. I’m an absolute sucker for any story surrounding a local legend. Despite the young adult vibes with the high school drama driving parts of the story, I didn’t lose my connection to the story. At the end of the day I actually found myself really enjoying these parts and reminiscing about my high school years and how I would have felt in Clara’s situation. I truly think that this book can work for any fan of the crime fiction genre who is interested in a lighter read. There is a great mystery, tense moments, a creepy setting, and plenty of drama to draw in fans across the genre.
Disclosure: Thank you to the author, Gillian French, for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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