One of our most iconic childhood games receives a creepy twist as it becomes the gateway to a nightmare world.
I went up the hill, the hill was muddy, stomped my toe and made it bloody, should I wash it?
Justin knows that something is wrong with his best friend. Zee went missing for a year. And when he came back, he was . . . different. Nobody knows what happened to him. At Zee's welcome home party, Justin and the neighborhood crew play Hide and Seek. But it goes wrong. Very wrong. One by one, everyone who plays the game disappears, pulled into a world of nightmares come to life. Justin and his friends realize this horrible place is where Zee had been trapped.
All they can do now is hide from the Seeker.
Zee, sixth-grader Justin's best friend, has been missing for over a year--404 days to be exact. Now he's home, and his mother, Mrs. Murphy, is throwing a party. Invited along with Justin are other close friends Nia and Lyric, as well as the neighborhood bully, Carla, and her twin brother, Quincy. While waiting for the guest of honor, another neighborhood kid, Shae, arrives and suggests that they play hide-and-seek. The game devolves into a flurry of rule-breaking soon interrupted by the arrival of a changed, scarred Zee, who conveys a cryptic message: "One day soon you'll leave from here and fight against all you fear." When the game's players develop a mysterious mark and begin to disappear one by one, Justin and his friends must find a way to defeat a chilling foe in a world made up of their darkest fears. Hermon's standout debut offers spine-tingling prose that pulls no punches; nuanced depictions of grief, friendship, and fear; engaging characterization that makes readers root for its largely Black cast; and a reassuring ending that leaves room for future installments. Ages 8-12. Agent: Emily Keyes, Fuse Literary. (Sept.)Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.