cover image This Appearing House

This Appearing House

Ally Malinenko. HarperCollins/Tegen, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-063-13657-1

When a gabled, turreted house with “a way of watching you” arrives wholly built one October at the end of a suburban New Jersey cul-de-sac, 12-year-old Jacqueline “Jac” Price-Dupree is sure it has appeared out of nowhere. Following “Everything Jac Went Through”—a brain tumor and treatment followed by nearly five years with “No Evidence of Disease”—Jac is tired of her worried librarian mother watching her closely in the new town where they moved for a fresh start. Concerning signs—headaches, hand tremors, and stumbling—suggest a recurrence just as the house suddenly appears, but tension over whether the structure is real dissipates when her friend Hazel and another neighbor also perceive it. Dared by two bullies to enter the house, Jac and Hazel plunge into a nightmarish, moldering web of rooms; soon, Jac is trapped with apparitions and elements that suggest an association between the two. Employing haunted house tropes, Malinenko’s (Ghost Girl) ominous telling explores layers of anxiety; if the messaging is occasionally heavy-handed, a strong third-person voice accurately evokes the feeling of long-bubbling uncertainty as well as familial and personal fear amid recovery. Characters cue as white; an author’s note concludes. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rena Rossner, Deborah Harris Agency. (Aug.)