cover image The Face in the Mirror

The Face in the Mirror

Stephanie S. Tolan. HarperCollins, $15 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15394-6

This ghost yarn offers little in the way of thrills and chills, but its theater-world setting may entice stagestruck readers. Fifteen-year-old Jared spends the summer with the father he's never met--a Hollywood director whose regional Shakespeare company is opening its inaugural season with a production of Richard III done like Star Wars. Despite the doubtful merit of this conceit, it gives Jared, cast as one of the ill-fated princes, an opportunity to play expert with his knowledge of Star Wars, and it may also offer readers a tool to apprehend the play's themes. The dialogue is studded with stage jargon, and Jared's emerging love of acting is rendered convincingly. But while Jared's conflicted relationships with his father and Tad, his film-star half-brother, are full of potential drama, Tolan (Save Halloween!) shows these motifs less attention than a hoary, obvious subplot about the ghost of an actor who died in the theater years ago. Jared befriends the ghost and uses him to play a series of unpleasant practical jokes on the cast and crew. When the ghost reveals himself as a murderous lush, seemingly because he suddenly feels like explaining himself, Jared must keep him from killing Tad. The split focus of this ghost-story/theatrical family drama dims the luster of both halves. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)