I recently came across an MTV post (yes, that MTV) about mystery books that kept you up in your elementary days. I guess they were trying to reach out to the MTV generation through a nostalgia card, but I haven’t read any one of the books in the list. What I remember reading in my middle school days was the Bailey School Kids Adventures and not one title from the series popped up in the list; one book, however, got my attention. The House on Hackman’s Hill by Joan Lowery Nixon was a book I remember having seen in my gran’s house.
The House on Hackman’s Hill, originally published in 1985, is a relatively short read. It is about cousins, Debbie and Jeff, as they go in search of the missing mummy of the Hackman House. The introduction gave me little motivation to keep reading; on the contrary, it became somewhat of a spoiler. It does pickup, however, as Mr. Karsten talked about his experiences at the Hackman House. And in a very satisfying way, the story comes full circle as the cousins relive the experiences of Mr. Karsten in the scary house.
One thing I did not appreciate was the shift of storytelling from third to first person by switching to the recounting of Mr. Karsten. I felt like it kind of cheated in terms of writing but it did create a more solid setting for the story in the process.
The House on Hackman’s Hill is a very good read for what it is. If you go into it without forgetting that it is a children’s horror-mystery novel, you will definitely have a good time. It does get a bit cheesy in some parts, but I believe that’s part of the appeal. Now, I’ve never read the book in middle school, but if I did, I’m sure it would have been a more substantial (re-)read.