Author Stanislava Buevich Recalls Her First Halloween #HalloweenMemories

Not everybody remembers their first Halloween, but I do. Growing up in Moscow, we didn’t have Halloween as part of our culture and traditions. There was no trick-or-treating in my childhood, no jack-o-lanterns on my porch, no costumes, no blood, and no gore. In fact, most people considered the holiday evil, satanic even. Not me. I was in awe. 

I loved all things spooky and weird; I dreamt of donning the scariest costume and going out in the night among the witches and wizards, skeletons and zombies. Behind my closed eyelids, I’d envisaged myself as the most glamorously frightening vampire humankind had ever known. I’d wear a long dress and fake teeth, a wig of hair that drooped down to my knees and fake blood all over my clothes. If only. 

Little did I know, we moved to New York when I was seven. On the 30th of October, I couldn’t sleep. My skin tingled with nervous excitement. My heart wouldn’t stop racing. Since my parents weren’t interested, my aunt would take me trick-or-treating in the suburbs. She found an old crocheted dress of hers. It was white and half-devoured by moths. A splatter of red paint wouldn’t do it that much more damage. She painted my lips with lipstick, highlighted my eyes with a black liner, and powdered my face pale. Being tight on budget, we didn’t get vampire teeth, but that didn’t matter. I snarled with such gusto, that my aunt could swear I had grown fangs on the spot. I was a vampire.

We took a taxi across the bridge; the evening was chilly with the early frost. We stopped at a cul-de-sac, surrounded by small houses. Stepping out of the car, my mouth dropped wide open. The lawns were transformed into cemeteries; animal and human bones lay scattered over the driveways; tombstones read all kinds of silly names, like Barry M. Deep or Nora Gretz. Lights flashed from the windows - green, orange, and purple. And shadows of spiders and ghosts lurked behind the curtains.

Screaming kids ran past me. I assumed they were children, that is. Perhaps they were not. Maybe they were goblins, evil demons, ghosts, ghouls, or fiends of the Underworld, wandering the streets of the city on the one day when they can blend in with the crowd and run free and wild in the real world. 

There was so much noise - growls of the mechanical monsters, and shrieks of the little ones, witches cackles, and skeleton bone rattles, and children’s laughter. People scurried every which way, forming lines at the best houses. The air smelled sweet with cotton candy and popcorn. I remember being happy. Happy and overwhelmed in the best possible sense of the world. It was everything I’d ever dreamed of and more. 

Many years later, it is still my favourite holiday. Every year, I host a party. I’ve grown up, I’ve moved to London. Still, I dress my house up in enormous spiders from head to toe, arrange skulls all over the kitchen, and light candles. My daughter helps me now. She loves Halloween just as much as I do.

  And every year, it reminds me to not be afraid of the dark - to go out and face it head-on. I don’t mean the night, of course, but rather the darkness that is part of our lives, the inescapable gloom. And oh, there is so much of it! But life without the dark is not a life at all.

Stanislava Buevich

Genre: Upper Middle Grade/Teen Mystery Horror
Date of Publication: December 1, 2023

Number of pages: 245
Word Count: 73K
Cover Artist: Sabina Kencana 

Tagline: Don’t go into Room 214 

Book Description:

"Hi, I'm Moon and this is my story. It all started with a terrible cold. When the lady in purple promised my mother that Clearlake Institute would be able to cure me without the use of modern medicine, my mom was hooked.

There was nothing I could do, or say, that could’ve changed her mind. She was determined from the moment we set foot on a remote island far, far away from everyone else, until the moment we were separated, and I was trapped in a creepy, gothic hospital."

Clearlake Institute was hiding something!

Deep beneath the shadows, something sinister was brewing - darkened halls, strange doctors, ghastly nurses that watch your every move, and children who are sent into Room 217 never to return.

Aided by the other children she meets at the institute, Moon Rains embarks on a perilous, suspenseful adventure to uncover the secrets of the Clearlake Institute.

Now, the race against time begins. Will Moon and her friends make it out before it’s too late? Or will Clearlake claim them as its next set of victims?


There will come a time when you wonder, how did a girl like me end up in a place like Clearlake and mortal danger? Well, it all started with a terrible cold. At first, it was just a blocked nose. Then a sore throat, nothing major. About a week later, I got a temperature. And the blocked nose got worse. Much worse. I lost all sense of smell and the ability to breathe. Snot kept trickling down from my nostril to my top lip, and I had to persistently wipe it off with my sleeve or taste the said snot. I had a headache. A constant, nagging, relentless headache as if a woodpecker was incessantly pecking above the bridge of my nose.

I was thirteen at the time and missed so many days of school that my mother got fined by the government. Now, I know what you’re thinking - any responsible parent would have taken their offspring to a GP if the wretched illness hadn’t gone away within a week. Well, not my mother.

My mother didn’t trust Western Medicine, you see, particularly vaccines and antibiotics. As far as she was concerned, those two were the source of all evil. I count myself incredibly lucky that, so far, I have managed to avoid catching something particularly nasty like Rubella, Mumps, or Measles. I’ve never had anything more severe than a cold, in fact. And while most colds went away without intervention, other than a honey, lemon and gin concoction (which was surprisingly effective, never mind that I was far too young to take it), this cold proved to be something else entirely.

About a week in, my mother marched into my room early in the morning. Loud, insistent stomps woke me up from a hazy, feverish dream. She touched my forehead with the tips of her fingers and raised her eyebrow, nodding as if everything was going according to plan.

“Well, I think I know what will finally do the trick,” she said.

I rolled my eyes. Well, not actually. Not on the outside. The outside she could see. I rolled my eyes on the inside, imagining them going so far inside their sockets that all that was left were the white bits.

“Beetroot!” she exclaimed, her voice chiming like a Christmas bell.

“Beetroot?” I yawned, and a few tears seeped out of the corners of my eyes. I wasn’t sure if the yawn caused it or the ever-escalating feeling of utter desperation.

“A few drops of beetroot juice inside your nose three times a day, and you will be good as new. I promise.”

She made similar promises a lot.

“If you stick a clove of garlic in each nostril overnight, in the morning… Poof. Cured. Gone. I promise.”

“Breathing over a pot with hot potatoes and a duvet over your head will open up the sinuses and unleash the phlegm. All of the gunk will stream out. You’ll see. I promise.”

“If you do a wee in a little pot and then take some of that wee with a little pipette that I’ve got here for you and…”


I drew the line at urotherapy, as it was apparently called, and it did take quite a bit of courage to stand up to my mother. She fussed and fretted but couldn’t get me to administer urine into my nose.

About the Author:

Stacy Buevich is a British writer and a film director with many award winning short films. She started writing novels during lockdown (wait did that really happen?), beginning with a magical mystery Maya Fairy, that she wrote for her daughter. Since then she has written several more and not planning to stop

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