Chain Letter by Ruby Jean Jensen

(No Series)

The paper was yellowed with age and edged in black. The spidery words were elegantly penned:
Whosoever possesseth this letter and dares to break this chain shall suffer disaster and death...
Abby and Brian knew what they had found. A chain letter. But it was unlike any chain letter their friends had ever gotten. This one was evil - they knew it in their souls. They dared not break this chain. They would send the letter to their special friends. And they would know who had broken the chain - by who had died...

I'm a mega-Jensen fan. After reading the back cover, fearing it was another chain letter type plot, I still whipped it up and plunged in the first day.

Fortunately not just another chain letter book, the story is primarily through the eyes of the protagonists Brian and Abby, two kids who dare to take the plunge of uncovering the mysteries of the letter. It begins with Brian's dog, Babs, going missing. The poor animal wanders in the old, abandoned Hawthorne Hill nursing home. There three children - Brian, Abby, Shelly - find a piece of the letter. Predictably tragedy soon strikes, but not just through deaths, but in how the children change.

I noted immediately this book is not as cruel int one as Jensen's others. It's lighter and more young adult, maybe dished out quickly, or else when she was in an off mood. The atmosphere is still unsettling, Jensen could never write a book that wasn't, even though the tone is told through the children much of the time. The kiddies themselves aren't annoying. Brian's an adorable (yes, I really said that) little kid who is all innocence with a big heart. He's fun to read through and sympathize with. All other characters are likeable - although I wanted to know more on the bearded "man."

The story starts out a little slow but it's never dull. Jensen's writing style is to par with the best of them . Her choice of wording is, frankly, beautiful and I love the analogues she uses. The writing doesn't get too stuffy, where it crams the rhythm aside.

Chain letter is what it says it is, a little more. It is more complex than the back of the cover lets on. In fact, cover blurb is a little misleading, as it doesn't play out much like the words suggest. Sadly it loses focus in the end, being abrupt and cheesy. I guess they were proposing a 'shocking' moment, but with a revelation like this it was sooo 80's. (not in a good way this time). Overall Chain Letter took me two days to read - if it weren't for distraction like work, food, and humans to take care of, I would have finished it much sooner. With flaws by still worth a read.

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