#DutchKidLit: Fright Night by Maren Stoffels

Shortlisted for the 2021 Global Literature in Libraries Initiative Translated YA Book Prize

I always thought death would look different.
A bit like in the movies.
Spectacular, sad, or perhaps scary.
But your death was lonely,
even though there were four people around you:
three people watching — and me,
your murderer.

– Murderer, Fright Night

What if you had the chance to put an end to your fears forever?

In a deserted forest outside of town, the Fright Night team organizes an evening event where local teens pay to be confronted with their greatest fears. In groups of five, Fright Nighters walk through pitch black woods where terrifying  jump scares and unnerving scenarios are performed by paid actors in full horror makeup. And just to set an appropriately unsettling tone, before entering the event every participant signs a contract stating that the organizers of Fright Night are “in no way liable for any kind of damage (either physical or emotional)” suffered by a Fright Nighter as a result of participating in Fright Night.

When Sophie came up with the idea to go to Fright Night and invited her friends Quin and Dylan, her main goal was spending more time with Dylan. Now, Sophie is having major second thoughts. There’s no cell phone reception. There’s the creepy contract they all just signed. There’s two strangers that have to join their group to make five total. It’s all more intense than she expected, and she begins to regret her decision. But it’s too late. They are all Fright Nighters now. All Sopie can hope is that that safe word for the night, “Ketchup,” works for when things get too real, and everyone can try to enjoy the experience.

Meanwhile, Dylan is struggling to keep himself together as his darkest secrets threaten to be exposed. Fright Night for him is all too real, but he does everything he can to try and stay in control in front of Quin and Sophie.  It might not be enough, though, to keep him from breaking from the weight of the memories of his mother and what she put him through for so many years.

What Sophie and Dylan don’t know is that their worries are justified. There are two older boys, Kelly and Sandy, also waiting in the Fright Night woods for the event to begin, new actors looking for some quick cash and something more. They are ready to feel powerful. They have a very different idea about what Fright Nighters will find in scare zones in the woods. They have plans for making this Fright Night a night no one will ever forget. And Sophie and Dylan are about to unwittingly hand them multiple reasons to do their worst.

With a horror-film inspired cover that demands to be picked up and imminent danger lurking on the dark paths through the woods, Fright Night is a page-turning thriller. Sophisticated readers might anticipate the twists coming, but readers looking for a suspenseful read with a dash of romance won’t care and will gobble this up. This is the practically perfect YA Halloween read, full of secrets and revenge, crushes, and a shocking death for readers ages 14 and up.

Fright Night
Written by Maren Stoffels
Translated from the original Dutch by Laura Watkinson
Published by Underlined, 2020
Originally published 2018 as Fright Night by Leopold
ISBN: 9781782691761

You can buy a copy of Fright Night here.

Awards:

Shortlisted for the 2021 Global Literature in Libraries Initiative Translated YA Book Prize

This post may contain affiliate links that earn Global Literature in Libraries Initiative a commission at no extra cost to you.

Maren Stoffels (1988) is an author of young adult novels. She published her first book when she was 17 and continued to publish influential novels for young adults. Her three recent books have been published in the United States. She likes stories that are based on real experiences. Reading her books make you feel like it could all happen to you. And maybe it will…
Laura Watkinson translates from Dutch, Italian and German into English. She studied medieval and modern languages at St Anne’s College, Oxford University, followed by a Master of Studies in European literature. She went on to teach in various locations, including the universities of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Milan, before returning to university to take a Masters in English and applied linguistics at RCEAL and Trinity Hall, Cambridge University. Watkinson has been a full-time literary translator since 2003. Follow Laura on Twitter @Laura_Wat.
Kim Tyo-Dickerson, seen here visiting the Kinderboekenmuseum/Children’s Book Museum in The Hague, is the Upper School Librarian and Head of Libraries at the International School of Amsterdam. Kim has a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, a Master of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Studies from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She is one of the founding members of the grassroots professional learning project International Teacher Librarians Lead (inTLlead) and is committed to world libraries, literatures, and literacies. Originally from United States, she has lived on three continents and worked in international school libraries for 16 years in both Europe and Africa. Kim’s languages include English, German, and Dutch. You can follow her on Twitter @kimtyodickerson.

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