From School Library Journal
Grade 5-7-From the first moment 11-year-old Taylor sees the 18th-century house her father and his wife, Sylvia, have recently purchased in West Virginia, she feels the presence of all of its previous inhabitants. Her first night there, she sees two ghosts, a disembodied head outside the window of the bedroom she is sharing with her new stepsister, and a woman in a 19th-century dress opening and closing phantom drawers as if searching for something. Taylor discovers that the ghost head is actually a prank dreamed up by Nicole, who is not happy about sharing her room. She reasons that the other ghost was also somehow faked-until Nicole sees her, too. The two girls, along with Nicole's brother Peter and friend Cody, begin investigating the history of Swain's Fancy and discover a murder committed in the house during the Civil War. Two brothers, Jason and Jared Swain, one in the Union Army, the other the Confederate, were both in love with their cousin, Elizabeth. Jason was shot and murdered by Jared, who accused his brother of stealing the family's gold. Elizabeth was convinced Jason was innocent and searched the rest of her life for proof. The children find this evidence, all the while menaced by Jared's vengeful ghost, and the past is set to rest. This is a well-done, historical-mystery, ghost story with suspenseful pacing that will draw readers in. The added plot of adjusting to a new stepfamily is well integrated into the story.Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4-6. Seabrooke ably combines a ghost story with stepsibling rivalry and a smattering of Civil War history in this well-crafted suspense story. Taylor, spending the summer with Dad's new family, is lonely in their pre-Civil War house in West Virginia. Standoffish Nicole doesn't want to be friends, and Peter, Dad, and Dad's wife, Sylvia, always seem busy. It isn't long, however, before Nicole and Taylor find a common cause: ghosts haunting their bedrooms. The girls then come up with some creative ways to solve the mystery, including holding a seance. Spats between the stepsiblings are realistically portrayed, and the girls' resolution to be friends despite their differences is satisfying without being too neat. Readers will sympathize with Taylor from the first, and even Nicole becomes more appealing as Taylor gets to know her. A good mix of fantasy and reality. Diane FooteCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved