Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network for the free review copy of his book – all opinions are my own.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Hannah and Scooter’s sprawling, ramshackle house is named for the lethal plant that grows in the dark woods behind it. Hannah knows she’s not supposed to explore the forest or nearby Moonlight Lake. But she’s feeling lonely and desperate for an adventure. And there Hannah meets Cady, a mysterious girl who promises everything Hannah’s been missing. Only Cady has a secret:
Cady wants Hannah all to herself.
Soon Cady is copying Hannah’s style so they can be more alike. She lies to Hannah’s friends, insults Scooter, and begs Hannah to break her parents’ rules and sneak out for a midnight swim. Hannah wants to believe Cady’s just a little insecure. But when she discovers a cemetery beyond the lake with an eerily familiar headstone, she must decide whether to trust her new friend or dig for answers that may lead her to a watery grave . . .
This was a fun ghost story that I think will appeal to upper elementary/lower middle grade readers. And by “fun” I don’t mean the story was cute and jovial, but rather that it was an engaging read that keeps the reader on their toes. There’s a sense of adventure to the story because of Hannah’s exploring around her house and yard. And Cady is a very demanding character (is she a ghost or a real girl?) who gets more demanding as the story progresses. This uncertainty of her “status”, and the mystery surrounding Nightshade (the house) will keep readers turning the pages.
Personally, this story didn’t have me in its clutches as tightly as other ghost stories have. For that reason, it wouldn’t be the first suggestion I’d make when asked for a ghost story. That being said, this book is definitely going to appeal to a certain audience, and it’s worth adding to the list of titles to keep in mind for recommendations.
Author links: Website
Book stats: paperback, 256 pages, Scholastic, June 27, 2017