I remember reading this book back when I was a young whippersnapper. I adored all things R.L. Stine and Richie Tankersley Cusick. I think my mom was worried for a while there that I was so obsessed with what is Young Adult Horror. I didn't of course realize that was a genre, I just know that I had fun reading about kids around my age involved with dark and mysterious things. The woods near my home and in my background used to scare the crap out of me. So on rainy days (and even sunny) I would curl up with one of these books and scare the life out of me. Of course reading this as an adult is different, I found most of the scary things to be so-so and of course some of the character development lacking. But all in all, a good YA horror novel to give to someone between the ages of 12-18 I would think.
"The Locker" follows Marlee Fleeming and her family as they move to Missouri (yeah who moves there). We find out that Marlee and her younger brother who is 6 (and named freaking Dobkin) are an odd pair. Marlee seems to have a gift that allows her to feel things when she touches them. And Dobkin has an old soul. Seriously though, he's 6 and he talks like my 40 plus year old investment advisor.
On her first day of school Marlee is given a locker that once she touches she is hit with a terrible smell and feels fear. She later finds out that the girl who had her locker before her disappeared the fall before and no one knows what happens to her. Marlee with Dobkin assisting (seriously, he's 6) find out what they can about the missing girl (Suellen). But it seems to stir things up and then Marlee is slowly running out of time to find out what happened to Suellen.
Even though I gave this book four stars (more for nostalgia purposes, believe me) this book did a terrible job with character development. Just like in most Cusick books, the main character is a teen girl and she develops a insta-crush on the first guy she lays eyes on. In this case, Marlee literally runs into a guy named Tyler who dresses like he is auditioning for the Basketball Diaries. They run around what they feel, but it appears Tyler is into Marlee for reasons.
We also get another character named Noreen who shows Marlee around and who befriends her. I did find it weird that literally in this school, Marlee only talks to Tyler, Noreen, and another boy who instantly dislikes her.
As other reviewers pointed out, Dobkin was odd and I don't know why Cusick didn't just age him up. Marlee's aunt who has been raising her and Dobkin since their parents died is a non-presence (like most adults in her teen horror books).
The book moves really fast (this is only 224 pages (electronic edition) so before you know it all is revealed and you find out who is behind Suellen's disappearance and why.