Book Review: The Fog by Caroline B. Cooney (Chilling)

I had to take a picture of my own copy of The Fog since I couldn’t find this cover anywhere online. It’s a bit battered but it first belonged to my older sis, Lucy, before I “borrowed” it a couple of decades back and forgot to give it back!

the fog

Christina is 13 years old. She’s an island child, excited to leave for the mainland, a small town in Maine, to start high school. Her older island friends, Anya, Michael and Benj warn her that the town kids will tease and mock her island ways. They tell her not to “yarn”. What they don’t prepare her for are the Shevvingtons. The high school principal with his strangely hypnotic but mocking eyes, and his ghastly wife with the tiny, yellow teeth and a cruel grin. Christina can hold her own against kids her own age, but how can she protect herself and Anya from the twisted nature of the man and woman they’re forced to board with all year, the same couple who run the high school?

A growing sense of dread and wondering how Christina would keep going in the face of such evil kept me turning the pages. I finished The Fog in two sittings, this time round. I first read this twenty or more years ago as a child. The first few pages brought it all back: the lonely imagery of the island, the harshness of the cruel sea lashing violently against the rocks, Christina’s isolation in the big house on Candle Cove, the feeling of powerlessness against those older and in authority, the despair that no grown ups will help or even believe her claims.

Christina is a force to be reckoned with. She is granite, unable to be broken, unlike Anya who doesn’t have half her strength or cop on. Christina is tough and resilient but achingly lonely.

One aspect I didn’t exactly get was that while Christina blames the Shevvingtons  for Anya’s rapid descent into insanity, Anya is actually acting on the strange side from the moment we meet her at home on her island, dreamily rambling about the sea wanting its next victim. I wonder if the rest of the books in the series will explain this.

I read many Caroline B. Cooney horror books as a kid. She’s an excellent writer. Though marketed as a teen book, I still found this story to be a chilling read. This is how young adult horror books should be written.

Key Points

  • Growing dread
  • The powerlessness of children against evil adults
  • The horror that no adult will believe, not even your own parents
  • The violence and power of the sea
  • Imagery of solitude, rock, granite, island, loneliness but also strength. Christina is alone but she is steely.

You won’t find ghosts or anything supernatural lurking here (unless you count the tales of the sea captain’s wife who threw herself from the roof of the Schooner Inne and is said to haunt Candle Cove), but this is a horror book.The evil here is of the human variety, the abuse of children while in the care of adults. Christina’s story is frightening and disturbing.

I never did find out what became of her and Anya and the rest when I was a kid, but this time I’m going to track down the rest of the trilogy. These books seem to be out of print so it’s off to ebay or Amazon I must go.

Add it on Goodreads.

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Can you remember a book or story from your childhood that frightened you?

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18 thoughts on “Book Review: The Fog by Caroline B. Cooney (Chilling)

  1. I would have definitely picked up that book as a kid. I liked spooky and creepy even without the supernatural thread. I hope you find the rest of the trilogy, Emma. Good luck in your quest!

    1. My love of all things spooky started pretty early. I often wonder why I’m drawn to the supernatural. Did The X Files kick everything off for me, or did it start before that? 🙂

  2. I always preferred slow moving psychological horror books to all the torture porn crap that’s put out lately. Especially in the Fall. Fall is the perfect season for daytime picnics and nighttime scare fests. And whiskey.

    1. I hate torture porn. Do not see the appeal of that genre, if we can call it a genre, at all! Yes, I do love autumn, and that means Halloween is just around the corner so I can decorate my house with lots of spooky stuff, and sip some whiskey while doing so.

  3. Hi Emma
    Great review. I especially like your line, Christina … is granite, unable to be broken. Isolated on an island, surrounded by evil she stands alone. Love it.
    Thanks for sharing
    my best
    Jo-Ann
    who actually hides from scary stories, because they scare her.

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