Article first published as Book Review: The Dead Boys by Royce Buckingham on Blogcritics.
When Teddy Matthews moves to Richland, Washington, with his mother, his main concern is making new friends. He finds that he meets and makes friends with a number of boys rather quickly, but no sooner has he met them than they disappear.
Teddy is also made to feel nervous by the dilapidated house across the road from his new home, and in particular by the large sycamore tree in the garden of the old house. While everything left unattended in Richland seems to be dried out by the desert that surrounds it, the tree is healthy and green...and moves of its own accord.
As Teddy investigates his new home-town, he learns of the shady history of the town’s nuclear power plant, where his mother now works, and was the reason for their relocation to the town in the desert. Built by the federal government after the Second World War, it was accused of releasing toxic substances into the atmosphere, creating health problems for the people and the land around Richland.
Following the leak, a number of twelve-year-old boys went missing at ten-year intervals. Now that Teddy has arrived in Richland, another decade is up. Will he be the next victim to disappear in this strange, shifting town?
It does not take Teddy long to work out the connection between the boys, the nuclear plant in Richland, and the source of the sycamore’s lifeblood. It takes Teddy even less time to realise that he has to stop the eerie tree from feeding. Soon he is fighting for his life against the tree and the boys he thought were his friends.
Royce Buckingham has once again created a creepy thriller for young readers. ‘The Dead Boys’ is an intelligent yet accessible chiller with a haunting underscore, and will leave its readers feeling like the tree: wanting more.