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About The Book

In this spine-tingling final book in the Whispering Pines middle grade series that’s Stranger Things meets The X-Files, Caden searches for a way to destroy the creatures from the Other Place for good while Rae tries to free her father from the sinister Green On!.

After more than a year of searching, Rae finally has a lead on her missing father: he’s being kept prisoner by the shady alternative energy company, Green On!. Now all she has to do is rescue him—even though that means battling her way through the alien-infested Watchful Woods to reach him. But her father isn’t the only secret they have locked up, and if Rae wants to free him, she’ll first have to make a deal with someone who has betrayed her in the past.

With the Other Place gone and all the aliens sealed within the Watchful Woods, Caden believes his family’s worries are over at last—until he discovers that the magical seal keeping the creatures contained is near collapse. If they manage to escape the woods, there will be no stopping them from ravaging the town and the world beyond. Caden only has one choice: he must find a way to destroy the creatures once and for all. Even if it means destroying everything in the woods.

Including his friends.

With the fate of Whispering Pines hanging by a thread, it’s a desperate race against the clock as Rae and Caden fight to save the people they love—and the strange, wonderful town they call home.

About The Authors

Photograph © Devi Pride

Heidi Lang managed to stumble upon the two best jobs in the world: writing for kids and walking dogs. If she’s not out on the trails surrounded by wagging tails and puppy kisses, she’s probably hunched over her laptop working on her next book. She lives in northern California with her husband and two adventure-loving dogs, and she is the coauthor of the Mystic Cooking Chronicles and Whispering Pines series, and author of Out of Range. Find her on X (previously known as Twitter) @HidLang or visit the website she shares with her writing partner at

Photograph © Portia Shao

Kati Bartkowski was originally drawn to illustration before she got swept up in the world of words. Nowadays she’s a fan of creating fantastical creatures and feisty heroines in both mediums. If she’s not reading, writing, or drawing, she’s probably chasing after her high energy little girl. She lives in northern California and is the coauthor of the Mystic Cooking Chronicles and Whispering Pines series. Find her on X (previously known as Twitter) @KTBartkowski or visit the website she shares with her writing partner at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (September 12, 2023)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665921923
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12

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Raves and Reviews

Zombies, giant centipedes, and tentacled alien horrors come home to roost in this series closer.

Determined to shove as much ick into their climactic episode as possible, Lang and Bartkowski open with a young character who’s still bleeding from the incision left from cutting giant bugs out of his stomach while he was awake (“Horribly, terribly awake”). While he’s fleeing a crowd of zombies spitting infectious loogies, fellow middle schoolers brave hazards ranging from tentacled trees to giant exploding centipedes in an effort to prevent partly alien creepy crawlies (which the corrupt eco-corporation Green On! is trying to weaponize) from escaping into Connecticut. For readers who delight in tales about intrepid young teens fighting multi-eyed monsters (“Rae’s thumbs sank in deep. She ignored the hot splash of gooey liquid trickling down her hands and arms”) or wrestling with both literal and figurative inner demons in eerie settings amid splashes of blood and ichor and the odd severed limb or cut-off scream, the town of Whispering Pines definitely merits a visit. And, just to show that it was all in fun, one humongous explosion later, nearly all the central cast staggers out alive for fence-mending (“I’m sorry I tried to drink your blood”) and a pizza party.

Everything but vampires…oh, wait. (Horror. 8-13)

– Kirkus Reviews, 8/15/23


“A thrilling novel perfect for fans of Stranger Things and stories filled with mystery and suspense.” – Booklist, starred review of WHISPERING PINES

“Perfect for reading under a blanket with a flashlight.” – Kirkus Reviews, on WHISPERING PINES

“Like ‘Goosebumps,’ but for an older audience, this book seems custom made for kids who like a good scare.” – School Library Journal, on WHISPERING PINES

“Delightful mash-up of science fiction, ghost stories, and horror.” – BCCB, on WHISPERING PINES

“An unpredictable, unrelenting adventure.” – Publishers Weekly, on WHISPERING PINES

"Will leave readers screaming for the next installment." – Kirkus Reviews, starred review of INFESTATION

"A cosmic blend of magical monsters and scary science as frightening as it is fun." – Kirkus Reviews, on RECKONING

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