Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Book Length: 272 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Fiction, Horror, Middle Grade, Mystery, Paranormal, Ghosts
Read Start Date: December 24, 2022
Read Finish Date: December 28, 2022
Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: “Folks say Old Auntie takes a girl and keeps her fifty years—then lets her go and takes another one.”
Thirteen-year-old Daniel Anderson doesn’t believe Brody Mason’s crazy stories about the ghost witch who lives up on Brewster’s Hill with Bloody Bones, her man-eating razorback hog. He figures Brody’s probably just trying to scare him since he’s the new kid . . . a “stuck-up snot” from Connecticut. But Daniel’s seven-year-old sister Erica has become more and more withdrawn, talking to her lookalike doll. When she disappears into the woods one day, he knows something is terribly wrong. Did the witch strike? Has Erica been “took”?
My Review: Daniel and Erica are forced to move to rural West Virginia when their father losses his job. Once a successful businessman, their father (and mother) take retail jobs at a local store. As an adult, this didn’t make sense to me — why would they leave a NYC suburb where all the business-esq jobs are, only to move to a rural community where only retail jobs are available?–but as this story is for Middle-Grade readers, I guess it’s not much of a problem. Or rather, a kid probably wouldn’t think in such terms.
To me, it seemed to be just a vehicle for moving to West Virginia, the location of the ghost story. It also helped explain the kids picking on them, and why they wouldn’t be aware of the history of the house. But again, these are adult thoughts and will not affect the storyline for the kids.
Anyway, they move to this rural area, to this house where 50 years ago, a child was kidnapped. All the kids at school make fun of Daniel and Erica because of where they live. At first, Daniel doesn’t believe them, but then strange things start to happen e.g. his sister starts talking to her doll and acting like it can talk back. Daniel doesn’t get any help from his parents, as things for them are also difficult. Their parents are working a lot to make ends meet, and they are constantly fighting with each other. The kids are also quarreling as siblings often do. So to say, the kids are having a really hard time with the move.
When the ghost of an old witch sets her sights on Erica, will Daniel be able to save her in time?
This book was being given away for free at a South Carolina library near where my parent’s live. Despite being Middle Grade, it sounded interesting and was highly enjoyable even for me, an adult. I think that kids will really enjoy this book, especially if they like books about ghosts.
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