Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman

I don’t know if I will recover from reading Patrick Carman’s Skeleton Creek anytime soon. This is one scary book! I don’t do scary movies and I rarely read horror books, but the multimedia aspect of Skeleton Creek intrigued me, so I had to give it a shot.  Do not read this one when you are home alone.  I wouldn’t even read it at night!  It’s a fantastic story and I think I would be even more enthusiastic about it if I was a horror reader.  But I can recognize and appreciate a great book, even if it’s my least favorite genre. 😉

The story is told in journal form, with lined pages and handwriting-like font.  The journal writer is Ryan and he has just come home from spending two weeks in the hospital.  Ryan has been forbidden from seeing his best friend, Sarah, after getting into an accident the last time the two were together.  Life in Skeleton Creek is boring and the two had gone to explore a strange gold-mining dredge in the woods where a worker, Joe Bush, had died.  That’s where Ryan falls and ends up in the hospital in a coma for almost 2 days.

Ryan and Sarah are forbidden from seeing or contacting each other, but this is the age of the internet, IMing, blogging, and websites.  Sarah emails video updates of her continued investigation to Ryan.  Readers can access Sarah’s videos through the website listed in the book and the passwords given on each page.

The first video Sarah sends shows her first visit to the dredge and their first evidence that someone else is there. The video immediately creeped me out and I actually jumped at the end.  It reminded me a lot of the cinematography in “The Blair Witch Project”.  SCARY!  The second video shows the night of Ryan’s accident. In late videos Sarah continues to lay out her investigation.  Again- CREEPY.  I had trouble watching some of the videos because they really are scary. 

I can not wait to share this with my students and I can already predict a rush to buy the book, because no one is going to want to wait on a waiting list for this one.  The multimedia concept is really cool and I think it’s going to hook a lot of my more reluctant readers (especially boys).  Because the two main characters are male and female, this is an equal opportunity horror book that both boys and girls will enjoy, though.  

I love the video+text combination, but I do wonder how to handle it sometimes.  Not every kid is going to have access to the internet when they are reading the book.  The videos are interspersed throughout the book, sometimes only a few pages apart.  While you can certainly read it without watching the videos, you will lose a lot of the story and atmosphere.  Kids can’t always get to a computer while reading, especially if we are encouraging kids to read anywhere they can.  If you are reading at your brother or sister’s soccer game, you aren’t going to jump online to watch the videos.  Instead, you will be pulled out of “the zone” and might not continue reading until you can get online.  Also, what if the website is down a few years from now but the book is still in libraries.  Is it then useless?  Interesting dilemmas.

There are definitely some issues with the idea of tying books to the internet.  However, Skeleton Creek is a fantastic read and my horror fans are going to eat this one up.  And I know they will be thrilled that there is going to be a sequel in the fall.  Definitely pick this one up for your tween/YA horror fans.  


To get an idea of how creepy the videos are, check out this video from

12 Responses

  1. I loved it too. I recommended it to one of my sixth grade boys who struggles to find books he loves. He enjoyed as well.

  2. My kids are eating this book up! I have one classroom copy, but am noticing that there are about 4-5 copies of it in my room now because the kids can’t wait their turn to read it! I read the first few pages aloud and showed both my classes the first video to get them hooked…boy did it work! They are loving it and seeing their reactions to the scary parts is priceless. Now they are bugging me constantly about when the sequel is coming out…October 09! Yikes.

  3. Hi everyone – author here – great review and comments! One comment from me….the videos are also available for free on iTunes for any video iPod, you can get them on any web enabled mobile phone, and they’re all over youtube by now. So the videos can be gotten and watched in a variety of different ways. Thanks for the support! Book II is coming out in September (along with the 39 Clues book I wrote, #5), and we’re already planning a bigger bang story in this vBook format! All best – Patrick P.S. have your students check out – very interesting urban legend site that’s gotten popular.

  4. I shared this book with my 7th grade students a few months ago. I actually took about two weeks and dedicated every day to the book. I read the book aloud and we watched the videos in class on the smartboard. They LOVED it. I had them write letters to me about the book and journal during the reading. A few weeks ago, the Title I teacher at me school asked for some help with an after school program. She thought if we came up with something like Skeleton Creek the students would be more interested. With the help of her incredibly creative daughter, we created project based assignments that we called the Skeleton Creek Project. They loved it. As a reward for all of their hard work, my friend gave them each a copy of Skeleton Creek. I will probably be teaching the same students next year and they are already asking me if we will read the sequel when school starts.

  5. I recently introduced this book to our 5th graders and had to go buy more copies before the week was out. It’s been a lot of fun to watch students come into the Media Center, book in hand, to watch the next video. I’ve made sure that this is an option for students who may not have access at home (or who are reading the book in school and can’t wait until later to find out what happens next).

    I was a bit nervous to read the book myself (I’m a complete wimp when it comes to scary books, movies, etc.). So, I gave the book to a much braver student and asked him to report back to me. His recommendation carried way more weight with the students than mine could have – and he really enjoyed the responsibility. In the end, he assured me that I could certainly handle reading it and I’m sure glad I did!

  6. I am thinking about using this one with my middle school book club next year. I have so many who love the horror genre that I know this one will be well received.

  7. I thought that skelton creek was the best book ever!!!!!!!!!i thought that the videos were both imformationsl and scary and ireally want to read he second book!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  8. This website is awesome! I love skeleton creek!!! I’ve been such a chicken to see the videos but now they’re very easy to watch. They’re so cool and totally worth the nightmares. Everyones telling me it’s realand that’s really creeping me out. Thanks for making the awesome site!!!!!!!!

  9. i love this book i my teacher read this book when i was in 5th garde i hope one day u read it or buy it

  10. These people from the library came to my school nd showed us one of the videos- we were all so scared, but we were writing horror stories in class that week, so our teacher knows they hit us off. I went to the library and all of the Skeleton Creek books were checked out!

  11. I’m reading the second one, it is EPIC.

  12. Nobody can read it but me and a girl named Samantha Greyson! Back off people!(p.s. It is real because me and Sam are going through it)

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