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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Haunted: The Cursed Lake by Mahtab Narsimhan is the second book in the Eerie Tales from the East series. Camp Sunny Acres was abandoned after a tragedy that drove the first owners away. Now Jonah and his mother are working to bring new life to the camp by re-opening it. That's easier said than done when one of the campers is a spoiled rich kid whose father wants him to appreciate the great outdoors and it's up to Jonah to ensure that he follows the rules. Adding to Jonah's problems, he sees a mysterious oily patch on the lake and a phantom voice calling his name. He shrugs off the ominous feeling until a ghost emerges during a storm and takes Jonah's mother. Jonah must figure out how to fight the ghost and save his mother before it's too late while still keeping the camp going.
The setting has a classic horror backdrop with a summer camp that creates an ideal location for this ghost story to unfold. The tone Mahtab Narsimhan creates is the expectation that this summer will be better. Narsimhan weaves an unusual tale in that on the surface there is an ominous haunted camp, but underneath is an origin story that is emotional and will capture the heart. The lake is the focal point of this ghostly story with a beautiful surface described as a gigantic mirror that takes on a darker presence following a storm. Narsimhan incorporates various themes into the tale, such as the value of friendship and the importance of family. Through the character of Dexter, the story explores the important role of friendship and kindness which helps a spoiled child to change his behavior. A fast-paced ghost adventure, Haunted is a great spooky read for all ages with a plot reminiscent of classic children's horror stories and emotional themes regarding friendship and family.