From Publishers Weekly
Veteran novelist Snyder (Spyhole Secrets) offers up a contemporary mystery more satisfying for its wonderfully delineated cast than, perhaps, for its plot. Matthew Hamilton, a gawky 11-year-old, has just moved to Timber City, where his dad has been hired as city manager. While his older brother and sister almost immediately start making friends, Matt is more solitary. A story about ghosts appearing near Rathburn Park, home to an old mansion and, also, before a deadly fire swept through it, the original site of the town, prompts Matt to investigate. He meets a girl in old-fashioned dress (who dons white gloves and a hat held in place with a hatpin), and he is thrilled when she introduces herself as Amelia Rathburn-and stymied when, shortly afterward, he learns that the only Amelia Rathburn on the premises is almost 100 years old. Those who have read E.L. Konigsburg's Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth will know exactly what's coming; those who haven't will probably be able to guess the flesh-and-blood identity of the titular "ghosts." While this isn't Snyder's most suspenseful tale, her gifts for fashioning lifelike and sympathetic characters are as pronounced as ever, as is her understanding of family dynamics. The payoff here is the storytelling itself. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-The Hamiltons have just moved to Timber City. The family's introduction to the town is the July Fourth picnic at Rathburn Park. It is there that Matt hears about the fire that destroyed the original town and the ghosts that haunt the park. He wanders away from the picnic, gets lost in the forest, and is led out by a small dog that no one else can see. Then he meets Amelia, a mysterious girl dressed in old-fashioned clothes. They explore the burned-out church, the old Rathburn house, and the swamp as Amelia leads Matt, and orders him around. These two main characters are finely drawn, as are Matt's two older siblings. Suspense is created as the 11-year-old tries to connect the history of the area to the tales Amelia tells him. This skillfully told story is full of both history and middle-grade concerns about peer pressure and acceptance.Kathryn Kosiorek, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, OH
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.