Adam Riley started to sweat as he and his best friend, Eugene Nazzaro, slowly approached the long gravel drive that snaked its way up to the creepy old house on the hill. It was the Leeds house, where the Beast of Baskerville had been born, the house where the sniveling, snorting, subhuman creature lived now.
From the street, Adam could see all the warning signs telling him to turn tail and run. They were nailed to the rotted-out trees that lined the drive:
KEEP OUT! PRIVATE PROPERTY!
NO TRESPASSING ALLOWED!
ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!
BEWARE! THE BEAST OF BASKERVILLE IS WATCHING YOU!
Adam swallowed hard. The last thing in the world he wanted to do was climb Deadman’s Hill.
But the creature was expecting him.Here goes nothing,
Adam thought, taking a deep breath to steady his nerves. He lifted his foot and crossed over the imaginary safety line between Ridge Road and the Leedses’ driveway.
Behind him, Eugene stopped dead in his tracks.
“This is not a good idea,” Eugene told Adam for the twelve millionth time. “You’re only asking for trouble.”
“But if I don’t deal with this now, I’m dead tonight!” Adam exclaimed.
“And what are you going to do when the little beast throws a big fat tizzy fit?” Eugene asked. “That’s what will happen, you know—the minute you tell him you’re not coming to his stupid birthday party tonight.”
Adam knew Eugene was right.
J.J. Leeds, the thirteen-year-old, sniveling, snorting, subhuman creature that had moved into the Beast of Baskerville’s old house, was definitely going to throw a major tizzy fit. Especially when he found out that no one
in the neighborhood was planning to come to his party.
“You’re not going to tell J.J. about anyone else, are you?” Eugene wanted to know.
“Are you nuts?” Adam shot back. “Then I’ll really be dead. Because everyone in the neighborhood will kill me!”
Adam didn’t even want to tell J.J. that he wasn’t coming to the party, but thanks to his mom, he didn’t have a choice.
Mrs. Riley felt sorry for J.J. Leeds. She insisted that the only reason all the neighborhood kids picked on him was because his last name was Leeds, just like the Beast’s.
Adam had tried to explain to his mother that the problem with J.J. wasn’t his name at all. Lots of people in Baskerville were named Leeds, including Stacey Leeds, one of Adam’s good friends. The Leeds family had founded the town of Baskerville more than two hundred years ago, and dozens of Leedses were still scattered about.
It wasn’t even the fact that J.J. and his mom had moved into the creepiest house in town that made him a spitball target. If J.J. had been a normal kid, everyone in the neighborhood, except for Eugene, probably would have thought that was cool.
But J.J. wasn’t a normal kid. He was a sniveling, snorting, loogie-spitting little beast. And everyone in the neighborhood knew it. Everyone but Mrs. Riley.
“I can’t believe your mom is making you do this,” Eugene said.
“Me neither,” Adam groaned. “But if I don’t tell J.J. face-to-face that I’m not coming to his party later, my mom won’t let me sleep out tonight. And if I don’t give him this stupid present, she’ll make me go to his party.”
“So why don’
“These titles are shivery fun.”—School Library Journal
“The flowing story line and relatable characters and plot…pack a sweet and sour punch [for] readers who have come to delight in mild horror.”—VOYA