Vera Strange has returned to make waves with the third book in her Disney Chills series. Second Star to the Fright is bound to hook readers as they set sail on a swashbuckling fun time.
Disney Chills: Second Star to the Fright Charts a Course to Hook Readers in a Chilling Tale
There’s a part of me that wishes I could go back to my own childhood just to read the Disney Chills books through the lens of adolescence because everything about this series matches what my literary taste was as a child. But Second Star to the Fright makes it quite clear that wishing to be a child forever is a dangerous wish to make.
Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Barrie doesn’t want to grow up. He likes his life as it is and would rather not have more chores and responsibilities like his older sister, or go to junior high, where there’s more homework. So when he finds a creepy in an old pirate ship exhibit, along with a note promising that whoever possesses it will never grow old, Barrie jumps at the chance and takes the hook home. But when the hook fulfills its promise, Barrie realizes staying a kid forever comes with a dreadful consequence. Now he must find a way to reverse the spell before it’s too late. Tick tock… tick tock…
I may not be a middle-schooler, but Strange had me hanging on every page waiting to see what Barrie’s fate would be. As a bonafide pirate aficionado and an ardent lover of Captain Hook (shh, don’t ask questions) this book ticked every box for what I want to see in Peter Pan-inspired “retellings”. The central character is named Barrie Darling (after the author J.M. Barrie and of course Wendy Darling), he has a crush on a girl at school named Wendy, his best friends are Michael and John, and his favorite band is The Lost Boys. So many clever homages to the original story!
I grew up reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Dan Greenburg’s The Zack Files and I’m excited that horror-loving middle-schoolers have something refreshingly new to dive headfirst into. Strange has a gift for creating vivid worlds with her words, doling out a healthy dose of spine-tingling terror and relatable protagonists, that any middle-schooler can find themselves in.
Strange also gets major points for, what I believe to be, a reference to The Mandalorian. I can’t think of any other sci-fi series, in their second season, that features an “adorable baby alien.” I see you Strange, I see you.
If you have a middle-schooler in your life that loves staying up late and reading scary stories by flashlight, then Second Star to the Fright is the perfect choice for them. It’s also the perfect choice for the Peter Pan loving adult in your life (you perhaps?).
The Disney Chills series makes me excited to see not only what Vera Strange writes next, but what Disney Books comes up with in the future. The series features some of the best storytelling that I’ve seen recently and it utilizes classic Disney characters in fresh new ways.
Disney Chills: Second Star on the Fright is out now.