My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Christmas Killer (aka The Dream Killer) was a Point Horror book I missed out reading when I was younger, so decided to pick it up to enjoy this holiday season (yes, I am sick). Rosecleer Potter is a normal, everyday fifteen-year-old girl who has a twin brother, Jerram, and loves to dance. She also just happens to have developed the ability to talk, through dreams, to the recently departed, which starts when an acquaintance disappears and whose body turns up murdered in the woods. Now, as the body count rises, Rose has to figure out how to use her power before the killer gets to her.
The first paragraph almost caused me to rethink my expectations of enjoyment I’d get from the book. The sentences were short and choppy, and if the whole book had been written this way, I don’t think I’d have managed to get through it. Fortunately for me, it didn’t turn out that way at all. Although there were more short, fragmented sentences, they were few and far between and seemed more of a style choice than anything else.
Rose was a good choice as a lead and had both positive and negative attributes to her personality. She was generally nice but could have moments of cattiness or where her temper got the best of her, which made her more believable. I can’t say any of the characters are over-developed, but they are described enough to get a rough sketch of who they are as a person, and there are moments of truth in many of their actions, e.g. the mother’s freaking out, the father’s clamming up, and the brother’s withdrawal and secretiveness. The atmosphere is done extremely well. Even though I don’t remember many actual descriptions, I got the feeling of a small town, its claustrophobia, and sense of impending doom all the same.
I have to admit this book surprised me. I went in expecting more of the slasher-type YA horrors I read as a youngster, and was handed a more mature, psychological suspense horror read instead. The plot flows well and has enough clues and red herrings to keep most readers interested. As someone who has read a lot of mysteries, I did figure it out, but it could have gone many ways and still have been satisfying. The ending is the only weak point as it was a bit abrupt and maybe too open-ended, but that’s a minor niggle and didn’t affect my enjoyment much. As far as I’ve been able to tell, there is no sequel, which might be for the best. The Christmas Killer was a quick and easy chiller that kept me entertained throughout and I’d recommend it for those who like creepy teen reads.
Originally Reviewed: December 29, 2012