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Dead Voices: 10/05/19

Dead Voices

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden is the sequel to Small Spaces (2018). It reads like a middle grade mashup of The Shining (1977) and Kingdom Hospital (2004) but written for middle graders.

It's winter break and Ollie, Coco, and Brian are now best friends. It also looks like Ollie's dad and Coco's mother have started dating. Now with free tickets to a new ski resort at Hemlock Mountain, the three friends and Ollie's dad and Coco's mom are driving through a blizzard for the scariest and most dangerous weekend they've ever faced.

The Hemlock Resort is built on the remains of an old orphanage, one with a dark past. As soon as the five approach it, Ollie and Coco both start having visions of ghosts. One sees girl who demands that they find her bones before she's caught. The other sees a frost bitten skier begging them to stop.

With the massive snow storm, none of the other guests have arrived. It's just the five of them and the owners. Until the next morning when a man arrives. He's not on the guest list but he claims to be a reporter for a paranormal newspaper.

The second book is two rows higher in the spectrum
Comparison of the two books on the scarecrow/minotaur traveler portion of the road narrative spectrum

Like the first book, Dead Voices sits on the road narrative spectrum. This second volume is a few steps closer to straight up fantasy as it relies on haunted house tropes, framed in a road narrative structure.

The traveler remains the same across the two books: the scarecrow and minotaur (99). The children, again serve as the scarecrow, or protector. This time the stakes are higher because they are protecting their sleeping parents who are cursed to sleep until their fates are determined. They are being pursued by ghost of the headmistress, known for killing a child. She is trapped by her actions in the now hotel and is therefore the minotaur.

The destination as it usually is for novels involving hauntings, is uhoria (CC). As with the Shining, some of the characters get to experience the events of the past directly. Others have to deal with the ghost. All three children, have to face taxidermic animals who move like topiaries in King's novel.

The route they take is through a maze (CC). The hotel at night can change. Extra rooms appear. Stairs disappear. Rooms stretch. Others shrink.

All together, Dead Voices is the tale of three scarecrows racing against a minotaur to escape uhoria via a maze (99CCCC).

While the set up seems very different from Small Spaces, the two are set in the same universe and the same rules apply. How those rules are interpreted are what make the children's experience all the more dangerous.

There are two more books planned for this series.

Five stars

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