Stephen and his father have moved to Spencer, Michigan as a last resort. See, about a year ago, Stephen’s mother started losing it. Now she’s in an institution. In that time, Stephen’s dad lost his job and, unable to find a new one, ran out of savings. So now, they’ve come to Spencer to stay with Stephen’s crotchety grandmother until his dad can get things back together.
Spencer is a weird town. The local factory closed shop and jobs are scarce; folks say they’re having “bad times.” And in Spencer, bad times are attributed to an urban legend that’s been part of the town’s history for over a century. The Winged Ones, giant beings that wreak havoc on Spencer, are at the heart of every bad thing that happens here. Or so they say. And when Stephen discovers that his new – and only – friends in Spencer have an odd fascination with The Winged Ones, he’ll have to decide not only whether to believe, but whether it’s worth the life of those most important to him.
Brewer’s latest could have been great. She touches on some really interesting things, a lot of which are truly scary: mental health, mythical beings, fear of being an outsider… Sadly she only really touches on them and as a result nothing goes into very much depth in this tale.
Stephen reads much younger than a seventeen-year-old for the most part and his family are little more than placeholders – his mom is a story (her psychosis would have been great if it had been further explained), his dad is wishy-washy and their interaction is minimal, and his grandmother – who must have SOME story – gets about three scenes total to be grumpy and cook meals.
The town’s history also suffers. The pieces the reader is presented with are limited to newspaper headlines at best – the town founder murdered his daughter?., – the stories are supposed to set context for, and support, the myth of The Winged Ones but there’s so very little there.
I wanted so much more out of The Cemetery Boys but ultimately it just didn’t live up to its own potential.
4/15 Becky LeJeune
THE CEMETERY BOYS by Heather Brewer. HarperTeen (March 31, 2015). ISBN: 978-0062307880. 288p.