cover image Took: A Ghost Story

Took: A Ghost Story

Mary Downing Hahn. Clarion, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-544-55153-4

This spooky mystery from one of the genre’s longtime virtuosos features seventh-grader Daniel and his seven-year-old sister, Erica, who face severe culture shock when their father’s job loss forces them to move from suburban Connecticut to an abandoned farmhouse in rural West Virginia. Readers know from the opening pages, narrated by spell-weaving old “Auntie,” that the family is in for big trouble—more than being bullied at school or the parents’ disintegrating relationship. Danger beckons from the surrounding woods and mountains; when Erica’s beloved look-alike doll, and then Erica herself, vanish in a fashion similar to the disappearance of a seven-year-old girl 50 years ago, Daniel reluctantly ponders the possibilities of his schoolmates’ rumors about a “conjure woman” and her resurrected razorback hog, Bloody Bones. Hahn (Where I Belong) smoothly depicts Daniel’s spiraling evolution from rational thinker to fearful believer, which is supported by interspersed chapters in Auntie’s voice that reveal the dark magic taking place. Satisfyingly frightening, if not quite as gripping as some of Hahn’s others, this will be welcomed by readers with an appetite for scary books. Ages 9–12. (Sept.)