Avery is looking forward to another summer at Grandma’s farm, at least until her brother says he’s too old for “Kingdom,” the imaginary world they’d spent years creating. Lucky for her, there’s a new kid staying in the cottage down the road: a city boy with a famous dad, Julian’s more than a little full of himself, but he’s also a storyteller like Avery. So when he announces his plan to film a ghost story, Avery is eager to join in.(goodreads)
Twelve-year old Avery is spending the summer at her Grandma's Tennessee farm with her older brother Blake. She meets a boy named Julian whose family is renting a cottage on the same property and is seriously into film making. When he sees an old vacant house called the Hillard House, he knows it is the perfect scenario for a haunted movie. This empty house is also owned by Avery's Grandmother and for unknown reasons she forbids anyone from going there. Even though she does not want to disobey her Grandma, Julian eventually convinces Avery that this is the best place to collaborate on a movie and she gives in to his idea. As the kids explore the creepy old home, they find many strange and ghostly things are beginning to happen.
Anytime of the year is a great time for a ghost story! This one was the perfect spine tingling adventure on a cold and windy winter weekend. The story was suspenseful and just spooky enough to make it a page turner. Julian and Avery dove into the history of the small town and the Hillard House as their inspiration for their filming. But as the project unfolded, they found themselves questioning some unexpected and bizarre paranormal events happening at the house. My heart raced more than once as I visualized the ghostly activity by the descriptive details of doors slamming or Avery feeling the sudden temperature change of cold to hot while entering a room. I like it when authors offer something inspiring in their writing for their young readers as well. For example, in this book the idea of historical research, creativity and film making. The characters worked together learning about history while building a story off their own findings about the abandoned house and using that energy to produce a real movie. Unfortunately, Avery did learn a lesson when she placed her trust in Julian and he eventually did something that strained the relationship. But it did give Avery the strength and motivation to start and finish her own filming project while she learned about the history of her family and the secrets hidden in the small community around her. Once she realized the truth behind the ghostly happenings, she knew she needed to tell it to others to help release the ghost and free it from its sorrows to finally rest in peace. Within each character is a story of its own as well and the author touched on things like fear, mental illness, regret, lying and sibling disconnect. The easy flowing steady pace pulls the reader into the mystery until the story wraps up in the end with an interesting twist. It gives you second thoughts about having secrets, judgement or blame and the impacts on society without knowing all the facts first. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 11-14.~
Another wonderful ghost story for young adults by Sonia Gensler -
Author: Sonia Gensler
Pub. date: August 2015, Knopf Books
Genre: middle grade fiction
Hardcover, 256 pgs.