I have just enjoyed a totally awesome weekend and this is due entirely in part to Skeleton Creek: The Crossbones by Patrick Carman. It’s the third novel in his Skeleton Creek series of books.
The first two novels in the series, Skeleton Creek and Ghost in the Machine respectively, changed the way that a story could be told. Indeed, it was a story that went beyond the printed pages of a book.
With a story that encompassed both the written (you get to read Ryan’s journal) and the visual (you get to watch Sarah’s video’s online at www.sarahfincher.com) Carman has created a story and a world that does more than live in our imaginations.
It is the rare cross breed of a novel with multi-media elements that actually works. Both the novel and the multi-media content are top notch. You’ve got your thrilling, mysterious and truly, truly creepy storyline mixed with some incredibly produced videos that only add to the fright.
The same is true of the third novel in the series, Skeleton Creek: The Crossbones. I was a little worried and anxious to see how Carman would change it up a little bit.
The formula for the first two novels was pretty simple: twenty five pages of Ryan’s journal and then a password that would reveal a video at www.sarahfincher.com where you could watch videos that would reveal more of the story.
The same is true…and not so true here. But you know what? It still works. And it pays off in a big way.
For Skeleton Creek and Ghost in the Machine, I was left wanting more video to watch, more to interact with. In terms of looking at the Skeleton Creek Series, as an ARG (or Alternate Reality Game) it was kind of lacking.
Unlike another series (such as the Cathy Series by by Sean Stewart, Jordan Weisman illustrated by Cathy Brigg-which, on a side note, totally rocked) the multi-media portion of Skeleton Creek was pretty lacking.
There is a fan site which is kind of fun, but I always found that I wanted more videos to flesh out the story. Thankfully Carman has heeded my call (and probably lots of others too. I can’t be the only 32 year old that’s reading this series right?) and now there is tons to feast the eyes on.
Inside Ryan’s journal, you get tons of illustrations that highlight the parts of the story and its clues that Ryan and Sarah are working on. And the videos are top notch. More often then not, you get three videos at a time, which is totally cool.
The videos are expertly done. Not only do the ones made to look older genuinely creep you out, the other story central video is very much like the beautifully done Blair Witch Project, which means it’s awesome. The documentary portions actually give you quite a bit of a history lesson, which is actually a very neat angle to the novel.
Thankfully, the real power of Skeleton Creek: The Crossbones is found in the words of the novel themselves. The story rocks along at an incredible pace and you’ll finish it in no time. I myself finished it less than two days.
Skeleton Creek: The Crossbones is expertly done and wonderfully executed in every way. It leaves me thirsting for more. Thankfully I won’t have to be thirsty for very long. The forth (and final?) book in the Skeleton Creek series, titled The Raven, comes out in the spring of 2011 according to Patrick Carman’s website (which has lots of other neat videos to watch too, that give you a look behind the series itself). You can find it at www.patrickcarman.com
You’ll notice that, if you read through this review, that I haven’t actually told you anything of the story of Skeleton Creek: The Crossbones. In fact, I haven’t revealed the plot points of the previous two books either. So what does that tell you?
You’ll have to go read the books and watch the videos to uncover the mystery.