The Secret Path is the first novel in the Spooksville series. It introduces three of the main protagonists, as well as several secondary characters, and is the first of three adventures on the Secret Path. The summary on the

Cover of The Secret Path

back cover reads:
"Adam didn't believe all the stories about Spooksville. Adam has just moved to the small town of Springville. The first day there, he meets Sally, who tells him the city's real name is Spooksville, because of all the spooky things that go on in it. Adam doesn't believe her until they team up with Watch and go in search of the Secret Path - a magical path that leads to other Spooksvilles. Together, Adam, Sally, and Watch will take the Secret Path and pass through a dark doorway. On the other side, they will find a terrifying Spooksville where there are huge spiders, living skeletons, evil black knights, and a witch who just loves to make dolls - out of kids."

It was published in 1995 by Pocket Books, a subdivision of Simon & Schuster Inc, under the A Ministrel Book division.


Adam Freeman, the main character, moves to the coastal town of Springville from Kansas City, Missouri. After arriving, he meets Sara "Sally" Wilcox, a neighborhood girl who explains the town's true, ominous nature. She takes him on a tour of the town as she explains the local mythology behind Springville, more commonly known as Spooksville, such as the shark infested ocean, movie theater owned by the town undertaker, and even Adam's house, whose previous owners purportedly hung themselves and were buried in the basement. Just when Adam appears doubtful of her claims of paranormal and supernatural activity, they run into Ann Templeton, a beautiful witch, to whom Adam takes a liking. Sally warns Adam not to trust her, and that she is notiorious for being responsible for the disappearances of many children.

On their way to the arcade, one of the relatively safe locations in Spooksville, they run into another kid who refutes Sally's claims, Watch, although he admits some of them are exaggerated. They follow Watch, who is on his way to meet with the former mayor of Spooksville and town bum, Bum, because Bum has promised to show Watch the Secret Path. Sally immediately tells him not to go, certain that he will die if he tries to use the Secret Path, but Adam is curious and they inevitably end up going with Watch.

After Watch offers him a sandwich, Bum decides to reveal the directions to the mysterious Secret Path in a riddle:

"Follow the life of the witch. Follow her all the way to her death, and remember, when they brought her to her grave, they carried her upside-down."

Adam, Sally, and Watch deduce that they must visit places where events significant in the life of Madeline Templeton, the original founder of Spooksville, took place, in the order in which the events occurred. They come up with a list of places and visit each one by one until they reach the cemetery, where Madeline was buried. At her tomb, they try and figure out how to actually enter the Secret Path "upside-down", in accordance with the riddle, when Adam is distracted by a red light shining from the castle of Ann Templeton. He begins to have audial and visual hallucinations of the witch until Sally forcefully grabs his attention, claiming that Ann was trying to put a spell on him. They then realize that Watch has gone missing, and find his glasses in front of the tombstone.

As they try to figure out where Watch went, Sally admits that while Adam was being hypnotized by the red light, she fell asleep for a moment and had a dream about the day they buried Madeline Templeton, but that she was sure Watch did not leave the cemetery through the entrance. They decide that Watch did something "special" to enter the Secret Path, which is when Adam suggests that they have to walk towards the tombstone backward, rather than "upside-down". At the risk of entering a completely different dimension from the one Watch entered, they follow the Secret Path in an attempt to find their friend.

They appear in the exact location from which they departed, facing the Madeline Templeton's tombstone in an alternate Spooksville. The town is generally similar to the normal Spooksville, geographically, but the sky emits a faint red glow, all the trees are bare, and there are coffins and skeletons littering the ground. Terrified, Adam and Sally try to pass through the tombstone backward, but are unable to. With no where else to go, they travel to their respective houses, only to find most of the homes in ruins; Sally's is demolished by a tree and Adam's is infested by giant spiders, as well as the corpses of his parents. At Adam's, they hear someone arrive outside the house, and only Sally is able to escape through a window before Adam is attacked and knocked unconscious by a knight in black chainmail.

Adam awakes in a dungeon, relieved to find Watch is chained up beside him, alive. Watch explains that they are in the basement of the alternate Ann Templeton's castle, and that other kids have been brought there as well, only to have pieces of their bodies, such as eyes, ears, and noses, removed by Ann for use in making dolls. He also notes that all of the clocks in this Spooksville run backward, a piece of information he believes is important. Ann enters the dungeon, accompanied by the black knight, and promises to let them go if they tell her where Sally is hiding. Adam refuses, as he would never betray her even if he knew where she was.

They are escorted a large room, in the center of which stands an enormous hourglass whose sand runs backward. Ann confirms that time runs backward in this dimension, before she exits to prepare a boiling bath for them. As Adam and Watch contemplate their unescapable demises, Sally appears outside one of the windows, alive. She is able to slip through the barred window, jump onto a chandelier and drop to the floor of the room, although she has no way to free them from their bonds. Adam suspects that perhaps the hourglass is the source of Ann's power, and asks Sally to knock it over. When she does, an enormous earthquake begins to shake the dimension, and the three are able to escape in the midst of the panic.

The Spooksville Series
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