cover image Taste Smoke CL

Taste Smoke CL

Marion Dane Bauer. Clarion Books, $14.95 (106pp) ISBN 978-0-395-64341-9

The tension in this supernatural tale, set in the woods of Minnesota, comes not from the appearance (and reappearance) of a rather amiable ghost, but from the difficulties between two sisters growing apart. Caitlin hopes a camping trip will renew the intimacy she once shared with older sister Pam, who has recently become preoccupied with college life. But when Pam's new boyfriend shows up at the campsite, Caitlin feels like a third wheel. Around this time, she starts having ``visions'' of a boy who was killed in a fire 100 years ago. The older teens, engrossed in their blossoming romance, don't take the ``hallucinations'' seriously, but the 13-year-old is convinced that the lonely ghost she has befriended is real. Readers attracted by the book jacket's spooky illustration may be disappointed by the low chill factor of this novel, which formulaically resolves the isolation of a preteen and her century-old soulmate. The attitudes and hang-ups of characters remain convincing, however, and Bauer's ( On My Honor ) on-target dialogue more than compensates for other pat or farfetched plot aspects. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)