Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Curious Tale of the In-Between review


Pram Bellamy is special--she can talk to ghosts. She doesn't have too many friends amongst the living, but that's all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.  Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram's power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost. (goodreads summary)

Pram lives in a 200 year old colonial with her two adoptive Aunts.  She was told her mother died during childbirth and she has never known her father. She has a special ghost friend named Felix that only she can see and talk with. She meets him down by the pond or finds him in the big tree that sits on the property. Pram has always felt odd about the ghosts and keeps her ability of talking to them a secret, fearing that if someone finds out she will be sent away. Pram has also been thinking about her parents lately and wonders if her father knows about her existence.  Her Aunts are concerned that she is too old for imaginary friends and decides it would be best for her to be among other children her own age by attending school.  Her first day she meets a quiet boy named Clarence, who has suffered a loss and seeking answers to an untimely death to someone very close to him. As the two become better friends, she decides to share her secret that she can communicate with ghosts. He leads Pram to a spiritualist named Lady Savant in the hopes that she will help them find the closure they both are searching for. Lady Savant eagerly agrees to help but is already aware of Prams true powers and strength. Unfortunately, unknowingly to Clarence and Pram, she has a different plan of her own.

Spooky stories are always a favorite of mine. I found myself not wanting to put this book down, so I read it in two nights! The storyline was captivating, hooking me right in after the first chapter. The writing style is quite graceful and flowing, just like a ghost would be.  Felix was a good character with his quick wit and personality. He was very protective of Pram and I had the sense that he really cared for her. After Pram met Clarence, she finally knew what it felt like to have a real person as a friend.  I felt saddened at times for Felix because I could see him sitting in his tree, watching her go off with her new friend and realizing he could not give her what Clarence could.  There is certainly a difference between the real world and the spirit world.  The story does, however, take a sudden dark twist when Lady Savant enters. I had a hard time visualizing Pram and Clarence as eleven years old because of the dark theme.  I almost wished they had been sixteen or older on a few occasions, although they both were very mature, strong and brave for their depicted age. I found myself going "oh no" more than once as certain parts became heart pounding and scary.  I couldn't wait to turn the page to see what happened only to go "oh no" again. Lady Savant was so eerie and the story got creepier as to why she wanted Pram for her own devious plot and what she was going to do to get her own powers stronger. Pram did help unfold Lady Savants story so I was happy for an explanation. The ending wrapped things up nicely leaving me wondering if more books will follow about Pram's unique ability and see where it will take her. It was fast paced and I never found myself losing interest.   There is deep subject matter relating to depression, suicide, kidnapping, grief, death and death of children that might not sit well with a younger or sensitive audience. A mature middle school reader would be best for this type of story. On the plus side, it does offer love, a strong sense of family, true friendship, courage, the willpower to live and talented writing. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 11 (mature though) & up.~

Title: A Curious Tale of the In-Between
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pub. Date: September 2015, Bloomsbury
Genre: middle grade, ghost story
Hardcover, 226 pgs.

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