cover image In the Stone Circle

In the Stone Circle

Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Scholastic, $15.95 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-590-21308-0

Kimmel's debut novel is a fast-paced contemporary tale--interlaced with a historical mystery--set in Wales and featuring a cast of well-rounded characters. A young female ghost, searching for a prized possession bequeathed by her beloved father, haunts the 16th-century stone house where 14-year-old Cristyn Stone and her father, a professor of medieval studies, are staying for the summer. Another professor, Mrs. Dunham, and her two children--a lonely boy and his rebellious older sister--join them. Both families are trying to cope with traumatic family situations. Cristyn's mother died when she was three, and although she and her father have a solid relationship, he rarely mentions the loss, leaving Cristyn hungry for details and memories. The Dunham children are coping not only with their parents' recent divorce, but with an intermittently appearing father who almost kidnapped eight-year-old Dennis. Kimmel packs into her tale a satisfying amount of interpersonal strife and reconciliation that may well resonate with readers. The author's ability to show her characters at their best and worst while they grapple with their own inner turmoil (particularly Dennis's prickly sister) makes up for a few predictable plot elements, and the brisk pace and moody Welsh setting will draw readers deep into the mystery. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)