Review: On The Day I Died by Candace Fleming

Saturday, July 28, 2012
Genre: horror, short stories, supernatural
Series: N/A
Pages: 206 (Nook ARC edition)
Published: July 10 2012
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author, Candace Fleming, gives teen and older tween readers ten ghost stories sure to send chills up their spines. 

Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860's to the present, and ends with the narrator's death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago's rich history—the Great Depression, the World's Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.

This is a creepy love-letter to Chicago, its history and to teens who love to hear things go bump in the night. Though I am slightly too old to be really creeped out by this collection of ten, often vastly different, stories of death and often weirdness (exception: Edgar's story was deceptively creepy and a nice ode to Edgar Allan Poe), I greatly enjoyed this unique frame for short stories. I'm not going to lie, the introduction/the first few pages and Mike's initial experience with a ghost reminded me greatly of Supernatural's pilot episode (woman in white appears mysteriously, "take me home"), but On The Day I Died quickly emerges as a fun, entertaining and weirdly awesome combination of horror and the supernatural; one of Candace Fleming's own unique invention.

From tales of "grow your own aliens" (David, 1941 - 1956) to a more modern form of horror (neglect and abuse  - Tracy 1959-1974) the ghosts of each child in White Cemetery each set out to tell their individual tales of woe to Mike, an unwitting participant in this yearly tradition. Though On The Day I Died focuses more on humor, the supernatural, creative forms of evil, etc. than on individual characterization for each ghost, the wide variety of the stories and their respective nature of death is more than enough to involve readers of all ages. Though this book's setting and each child is centered around Chicago, the various nods to other cultures (East Indian fakirs and a Sumerian death chant!) add a nice variety to several of the stories.

The shifts from Mike's POV (third-person omniscient) to the ghosts (told in first person) are not my favorite, but it works here. This is a deftly-handled short story collection, and if some stories (Lily [1982-1999], Scott [1995-2012]) lack the punch of others (Edgar [1853-1870], Evelyn [1877-1893], Rich [1965-1981]), all are still fun, creative and very enjoyable to read.


  1. I love this cover! This sounds like a good collection to read in the fall- near Halloween. :) Thanks for sharing.


    1. The cover is pretty awesome! And this would be a great fit to read around Halloween, you're totally right!


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