Monday, February 27, 2023

Review | Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

It's Read Across America week so I'm dedicating the blog to horror novels for children this week! If you have anyone young in your life, please make sure they have access to fun, spooky reads, OK?

Source: personal purchase. This is a review of my reading experience.

Wait Till Helen Comes is a middle grade horror novel by Mary Downing Hahn.

Twelve-year-old Molly and her ten-year-old brother, Michael, have never liked their seven-year-old stepsister, Heather. Ever since their parents got married, she's made Molly and Michael's life miserable. Now their parents have moved them all to the country to live in a house that used to be a church, with a cemetery in the backyard. If that's not bad enough, Heather starts talking to a ghost named Helen and warning Molly and Michael that Helen is coming for them. Molly feels certain Heather is in some kind of danger, but every time she tries to help, Heather twists things around to get her into trouble. It seems as if things can't get any worse.

I really can't explain what happened as a child. I was eight years old when Wait Till Helen Comes came out. That should have been the perfect age for me to have found and read and loved Wait Till Helen Comes. I spent my entire childhood – every single time I went to the library and every time I went to a book fair – searching for children's horror and specifically searching for ghost stories. How was Mary Downing Hahn not in my life? How was Wait Till Helen Comes not in my life? I can't explain it. Did I somehow forget it?

Regardless of this mystery, I have found Mary Downing Hahn as an adult, and I have made it a mission to catch up on reading all of her books. Wait Till Helen Comes is probably Mary Downing Hahn's most popular book, and I can see why.

One thing I have to confess is I find Mary Downing Hahn's characters (even the adults) to be generally annoying. But kids in real life are annoying, too, and I found myself loving everyone by the end of Wait Till Helen Comes.

This is a great ghost story, and I would have loved it as a kid. There is even some possible possession happening here which is amazing. I think this ghost story would absolutely hold up in 2023. The family in Wait Till Helen Comes is a blended family that has moved out into the country to live in a house that used to be a church. They are dealing with grief and trauma and learning how to be a family together while also having to deal with the haunted graveyard out back.

I've only read a couple of Mary Downing Hahn's books so far so I'm looking forward to continuing my way through the rest of her bibliography.

4/5 stars

Read more of my reviews of books by Mary Downing Hahn:

Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn

The Doll in the Garden by Mary Downing Hahn

If you like Mary Downing Hahn, check out these books by Lindsey Duga:

The Haunting by Lindsey Duga

Ghost in the Headlights by Lindsey Duga


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