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Ruined: A Novel Hardcover – August 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 309 pages
  • Publisher: Point; 1 edition (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545042151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545042154
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (290 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #731,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Priase for Ruined

"The moody tale throughly embraces the rich history, occult lore and complex issues of race, ethnicity, class and culture that have defined New Orleans for centuries, turning the city into a character in its own right." — Publishers Weekly, starred review --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Paula Morris is the author of RUINED, DARK SOULS, and several award-winning novels for adults in her native New Zealand. She now lives in Scotland with her husband. Please visit her online at

More About the Author

Paula Morris is a novelist and short story writer from New Zealand. For ten years, she worked in London and New York, first as a publicist and marketing executive in the record business, and later as a branding consultant and advertising copywriter.

She is the author of three novels for young adults, all published by Scholastic: RUINED, a mystery with a supernatural twist set in New Orleans; DARK SOULS, a novel set in the ancient - and haunted - city of York, England; and UNBROKEN, a sequel to RUINED.

Paula is also the author of award-winning novels for adults, published by Penguin Books in her native New Zealand: QUEEN OF BEAUTY (2002); HIBISCUS COAST (2005); TRENDY BUT CASUAL (2007); and RANGATIRA (2011). RANGATIRA won best book of fiction at the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards and the Nga Kupu Ora Maori Book Awards.

In 2013 she published her first children's book, HENE AND THE BURNING HARBOUR (Puffin New Zealand).

Paula's short stories have been widely published and broadcast in both New Zealand and the US, and her short story collection, Forbidden Cities (2008), was a regional finalist in the 2009 Commonwealth Prize. She is the editor of THE PENGUIN BOOK OF CONTEMPORARY NEW ZEALAND SHORT STORIES (2008).

Both HIBISCUS COAST and RUINED have been optioned for film.

Paula has degrees from universities in New Zealand, the U.K. and the US, including an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has taught creative writing at universities in the US and the UK, and is currently Fiction Writer-in-Residence at the University of Sheffield.

Visit her web site:, or her blog at You can also visit the blog "written" by her character Jane Shore, from the novel TRENDY BUT CASUAL:

Customer Reviews

Great, mysterious ghost story with all the romance of New Orleans.
This book is sure to be a pleasure to read to all who enjoy a good ghost tale,and I highly recommend it.
C. Hall
If you like an entertaining ghost story with well developed characters then this book is for you!
Bonnie Jo Davis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Keith Blodgett VINE VOICE on August 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In a nutshell: Pleasantly Surprised.

When I first started this novel I worried that it would be an angsty, teenage complaint fest. It does start off that way a bit. But then angst and complaints are not an unexpected reaction from a fifteen year old who has been taken out of her school and sent off to live with an 'aunt' for the next six months.

Fifteen year old Rebecca's father, a high powered tech consultant, has to travel to out of the country for an extended business trip. Not wanting to burden the elderly neighbor who normally looks after Rebecca during short business trips he packs her off to stay with 'Aunt' Claudia a Tarot card reader (and something of a clairvoyant) and Claudia's daughter Aurelia in post Katrina New Orleans.

Moving away from her friends would have been bad enough but Aunt Claudia's damp, strange, shotgun style house is stuffed to the rafters with Voodoo talismans, monkey skulls, Buddha statues and the like. Topping that off she's also been enrolled in a snooty, upper-crust, school where friends are few and far between.

Upon spying several of the popular kids sneaking into a nearby cemetery late one night she follows to see what they're up to. After nearly being caught eves dropping on the partying teenagers she runs into Lisette who helps her escape unseen.

After several more chance encounters she learns Lisette is the ghost of a girl about her age who met a horrible end and is told about a terrible curse laid over a hundred years ago on one of her new schoolmate's families.

The story paces well. I finished it rather quicker than expected. It's well written. An easy read. It moves enjoyably from beginning to a rather dramatic and exciting ending. This was categorized on Amazon as 'Juvenile Fiction' but I feel that it will appeal to adults and teens alike who are looking for a bit of light reading.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Nanciejeanne TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Without giving too much away, this book is a great New Orleans ghost story. It offers the younger reader (I would say tween and up) some nice info about the city, especially Mardi Gras, and a little history. The author makes the main character real and easy for the reader to relate to. There are also some underlying messages of racism, privilege, and bullying. The character does do some things a parent wouldn't like (such as sneaking out of the house at night to go into a graveyard) but nothing that is not in the realm of many teens' imaginations. I read it an immediately passed it onto my daughter, who is appreciating the story and now wanting to learn more about New Orleans history. Most of the main characters are female, but it isn't about fashion, hairstyles, etc. that would preclude it from a boy. Overall, I thought it was a great ghost story that wasn't overly scary and not inappropriate for a younger reader. Nice treat for Halloween-time!!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lost in a Book on August 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book was as much a historic delight as a ghost story delight. I really enjoyed learning so much about New Orleans past and felt I could really picture the setting of the story because the author spent so much time describing New Orlean's past and present. Every time I pass a cemetary now I get disappointed knowing that in New Orleans there are these elaborate tombs and elevated cemeteries.

I could tell that this book was written with a lot of love. The author put care into even the most despicable characters which made the book that much better. It was written so well, too. I felt like I wasn't reading, rather sneaking into the Lafayette Cemetary with Rebecca and watching the parades of Mardi Gras.

Exhilarting. That's what that last half of the book was. I never knew what was going to happen and when it did I had to have an inhaler on hand. It was the kind of ghost story I used to hear around my campfire (less paranormal and more human) and I think those are the scariest. The ghost had history and her own character and after I really was connected to her story then something happened that totally threw me off. In a good way. I didn't know what to believe until the end!

I reccommend this to anyone who likes history and truly just a well told story. It didn't have any superficial layers. If you like ghosts and curses you'll love the way this story fans out. I think the author did a fabulous job and I can't wait to read her again!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Miss Manners VINE VOICE on September 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
From the very first page, it is clear that Rebecca is going to be in trouble. She is sent to New Orleans to stay with an 'aunt' while her father works in China. While this may all seem contrived at first, the setting in New Orleans is vibrant and well told. What fifteen-year-old has ever appreciated being picked up and moved to a new city and new school to live with a relative she has only ever met once? And this relative? Aunt Claudia reads Taro Cards for tourists, dresses like a gypsy, and lives in a tiny house that leans so far to one side that it almost touches the next door house. Her first warning? Rebecca should not go in the cemetery across the street.

It keeps getting worse for Rebecca. The girls in her school are especially troublesome: the daughters of privilege, they are used to getting their own way. But there are two families who are especially troublesome, the Bowmans and the Suttons. And a boy, of course, helps liven up the mix.

A new Orleans Mardi Gras is a lot more complicated than what the average tourist sees and this makes very interesting reading. While the history of the story is pretty glossed over with the stories of the parades and Krewes, it is still very well described.

Add one ghost and this makes a great story. Doesn't it seem like teenage girls always get the bad end of the deal in a ghost story? This one is no exception while being somewhat predictable.

This is a very good high interest book for pre-adolescent and adolescent girls. It would also work well with reading groups in a middle school setting, and perhaps with some fifth graders.
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