cover image The Ghost of Midnight Lake

The Ghost of Midnight Lake

Lucy Strange. Chicken House, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-338-68643-2

Set in England’s Lake District in 1899, Strange’s (Our Castle by the Sea) gripping riches-to-rags story hearkens back to Victorian classics, employing strong gothic elements alongside matters of inheritance and parenthood. Lady Agatha Asquith, 12, is cast out of her ancestral home when the father she’s known, the Earl of Gosswater, dies, and the male heir—Agatha’s cruel, recently arrived cousin Clarence—reveals her true lineage. Under the care of her newfound biological father at his small cottage, Agatha struggles to adapt to her new circumstances, tending geese and doing household chores. But she slowly recasts herself as Aggie and befriends orphan Bryn, with whom she sneaks out to explore nearby Skelter Island, where lies the Asquiths’ cemetery. The plot thickens when a ghost girl appears and Aggie attempts to find the lost Queen Stone belonging to the Asquith line. Though Clarence proves predictably dastardly, he remains an effective foil throughout, while a spookily atmospheric historical setting; strong friendships among the appealing, presumed-white cast members; and a memorable heroine propel this ghostly mystery. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)