Bringing horror to Haddonfield

Haddonfield resident Jeff Kelly has debuted a horror novel set in his Haddonfield home, which he hopes his fellow residents will come to enjoy.

Around six months ago, Haddonfield resident Jeff Kelly was reading to his son Oliver when he got to thinking about how he’d deferred his dreams of writing. He said he’d always enjoyed writing, but his work as a clean energy director at a wind and solar company doesn’t entail literary creativity. As he read to his son, an idea formed, and he decided he should write his son a book.

Kelly self-published his children’s book “Trick or Monster Treat” in May, and it has since landed on some of Amazon’s best seller charts. The book is set in his hometown of Haddonfield, and he said his hope is that in years to come, not only will his son enjoy reading a story set in his hometown but other residents and their children will as well.

The book tells the story of three friends trick or treating on Halloween in Haddonfield. He said the friends run into trouble when genetically engineered monsters come spilling out of their candy bags and wreak havoc on the town. The mystery, thriller follows the friends as they travel around town trying to unravel who’s behind the chaos and dealing with the monsters along the way.

Haddonfield has all the makings of a good setting for a book, Kelly said. A historic, American town with stately homes and historic sites are staples in all good horror stories, he said. Kelly said he grew up reading horror stories, and so it only made sense that when he sat down to write his own book that a horror story was what came out.

“Trick or Monster Treat” uses a combination of real locations around town along with fictionalized places that are inspired by places in Haddonfield. He said his characters travel along streets in town, such as Maple and Princeton avenues, and visit Haddonfield Memorial High School. Other locations — such as “Tavistock Mansion” — are a play on real local spots.

Kelly also decided to include some personal touches to his book by naming some of the characters after his friends. Greg Burns, a former Haddonfield resident, is a friend of Kelly’s who received a character in the book.

Burns said he wasn’t surprised when Kelly told him he was writing a book, as his friend has always had a creative mind, nor was he surprised when he decided to set the story in Haddonfield. He said Kelly has immense pride in the town and is always taking their friends to local restaurants or historic locations.

“I think he is a great representative of the town,” Burns said. “He’s always been such a great steward of the the town.”

“Trick or Monster Treat” is the first book in what will become the “Haddonfield Horror” series, Kelly said. His plan is to continue writing stories set in Haddonfield, which he hopes will not only appeal to residents but anyone who enjoys horror.

Kelly said he has already started working on his next book, which will be a ghost story set at the Indian King Tavern. Burns said he knows his friend has already started putting quite a bit of work into his next piece and is avidly researching some of the town’s more notable historical figures to include.

Kelly said while his son is too young for school, he looks forward to a time when his son is old enough to go to school and share his dad’s book set in their town with his friends.

“I’d love it if word got out in town that this book about Haddonfield exists,” Kelly said.