From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–Maud's life at an orphanage has been one of neglect and poverty. When the Hawthorne sisters appear out of nowhere and adopt the 11-year-old troublemaker, she vows to be obedient. Distracted by unfamiliar pleasures such as new clothes, ice cream, and indoor plumbing, she doesn't worry too much about the sisters' insistence that her presence in their home be kept hidden. Well cared for but bored, she finds a way to communicate with Muffet, a deaf serving woman, and the two develop a close relationship. Mysteries abound, and Maud soon discovers the family secret–the Hawthorne sisters make their living by conducting fraudulent séances and they need Maud to play the part of a girl's ghost to deceive a grieving mother. Wanting to earn her guardians' affections, Maud is drawn further and further into the scheme despite her growing qualms of conscience. Only after a betrayal and a tragedy does she finally find the loving home for which she longs. Filled with heavy atmosphere and suspense, this story re-creates life in early-20th-century New England and showcases the plight of orphans. Maud is a charismatic, three-dimensional character who is torn between doing the right thing and putting her own needs first. While much of the plot is predictable, particularly the ending, the book will find an audience with fans of gothic tales.–Melissa Moore, Union University Library, Jackson, TN
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Set in the early twentieth century, this first novel tells the classic foundling story with mounting melodrama and multiple twists and turns. Eleven-year-old Maud is always in trouble in the orphan asylum, so she's delighted when she's adopted by the three elderly Hawthorne sisters. Suddenly she has the luxury of new clothes, running water, and good food. But why do the sisters hide her away? As it turns out, they want her to play the role of a drowned child in mock seances to trick their rich, bereaved clients. But smart, brave Maud rebels, bonds with the sisters' deaf housekeeper, and, eventually, finds a loving family elsewhere. The narrative goes on too long, and the seance secret is revealed too early, but the details and the surprising turnarounds will keep readers hooked. They'll enjoy the situation of the brave young rebel who spies on the powerful adults she depends on. Hazel Rochman
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