Scarecrows by Christine Hayton

Scarecrows They do more than frighten birds. Much more.

Early one morning in the fall of 1964, Robert searched for his missing six-year-old daughter, Cathy. He found her asleep in a nearby cornfield, covered in blood and holding a small axe. A few feet away lay the mutilated body of her classmate Emily.

Assumed guilty of murder, Cathy lived in a hospital for insane children. She always gave the same account of what happened. She talked of murderous scarecrows that roamed the cornfield on moonlit nights. Her doctors considered her delusional. The police, her neighbors and the press thought she was dangerous. And so she remained incarcerated. No one believed her. That was a mistake.addtogoodreads_zps55cd15da16

 I loved the concept of this book.  Taking our childhood fears, those ghost stories you hear as a child with the flashlight under the chin and turning it into a book you can hold.  What fell short for me was the length of this book compared to the plot.  I feel if she would have made it shorter and kept the majority of the mental hospital out, she would have had an excellent scary story.  Or she could have expanded in some areas, give us more description and scene development and this would have been a five star novel.  Where it was at right now I felt cheated of the horror, and short changed of a mystery.

Cathy went missing one night shortly after another little girl went missing.  Her father found her in the corn field, covered in blood, holding a weapon and lying next to the missing dead girl.  The small community wanted Cathy locked up in a mental hospital for the rest of her life, while the father is dealing with his other kids and wife.  The time era was 1960’s before mental health treatment was so advanced, so you can imagine the kind of hospital for mentally disturbed children Cathy was going to grow up in.

Doctors came to evaluate Cathy in hopes they could find a “cure” for her but it took years before a young doctor was convinced as to what was wrong with her.  This is an area in the story that I felt could have really been expanded and developed into a novel length book.  A major part of this story was Cathy would tell everyone what she remembered and how she used to love watching the scarecrows but no one read between the lines and understood how big of a part this played in the mystery.  The community and house she grew up in was reported as haunted, so could a haunted force be part of the murder?

The ending was not something easily predicted and could have been developed into a very spooky and scary ending but it felt more of a rushed conclusion.  I really did love the idea of this story, it sadden me that it was written in a way meant to be only a hundred pages.  I could certainly celebrate if the author would decide to expand this book and give me more of this story.  I would love to connect more to Cathy and her family and explore the horrible damage done to her mother due to the death of that little girl.  I would also love to know more about the community and the house she grew up in.  I do recommend this book and I will certainly read more from this author.  I am excited about the concept of the childhood fears books.


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