cover image The Curse on Spectacle Key

The Curse on Spectacle Key

Chantel Acevedo. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-313481-2

Cuban American 11-year-old Frank Fernández, an ardent book-lover, has never resided anywhere for more than a year, making it difficult for him to establish friendships. Though his parents had agreed to stay in Alabama for two years, their work renovating unique buildings leads them instead to a lighthouse in the Florida Keys, which is meant to finally become their forever home. But after arriving, inexplicable things begin to happen at the Spectacle Key property—thorny vines grow on the lighthouse’s exterior walls, hundreds of blue crabs infest the building, and Frank begins to hear a sighing, sniffling sound accompanied by a sweet smell. After conducting an exothermic science experiment in a nearby abandoned building, Frank meets Connie, a white girl his age who can’t recall anything about herself. As his parents start fighting and incidents around the lighthouse increase in severity, Frank, Connie, and Frank’s Great Dane puppy, Mary Shelley, investigate a local curse, hoping to protect Frank’s home. Acevedo (the Muse Squad series) concocts a tidy small-town mystery, filled with ghosts and suspicious townsfolk, that’s led by an earnest tween’s compassion and hope for friendship, justice, and stability. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)