By Caroline B. Cooney.
Nine year old Meghan loves playing with the Trevor siblings: Tuesday, West and Brown. The only thing that spoils their fun is the constant presence of their pale, strange-eyed neighbour, Lannie Anveill. One evening, when they are playing Freeze Tag and Lannie is It, she freezes the children for real and only unfreezes Meghan once West has promised he will always like Lannie best. Six years later, they have left their backyard games far behind. Meghan and West are in love and their romance is the envy of all the girls at school. Particularly Lannie, who approaches them one day to remind West of his promise.
When they laugh off Lannie’s warning of the consequences of their ignoring her, she freezes a girl in the cafeteria and threatens to keep freezing their classmates until West gives in. He relents, having lunch with Lannie and then driving her home. But when Lannie catches Meghan and West in a tryst, she uses her freezing powers again. Tuesday intervenes, but the friends realise Lannie has power over them all and if they do not go along with her whims, they risk being frozen to death. And so Lannie usurps Meghan’s place as West’s girlfriend, leaving her alone and friendless. At first, West is simply numbed by the situation, but the more time he spends with Lannie, the more cold-hearted he becomes. And Meghan realises that in spite of her fear, she must confront Lannie in order to save West’s soul.
The premise of Freeze Tag is interesting, but the action is slow-paced and the freezing/unfreezing quickly starts to become repetitive. Nevertheless, the pay-off of the shocking, twist ending makes it a worthwhile read and an intriguing entry in the PH franchise.
Much of the horror lies in Lannie’s creepy personality; discovering what she has done (to her dog, to her own family) and understanding what she has the power to do. She is like a second-rate Carrie, without the pathos. But what happens to Lannie in the end, and how that comes about, chills the bones. The conclusion is unexpected and horrifying, salvaging for Freeze Tag a respectable fear factor rating of…