cover image The Girl in the Locked Room: A Ghost Story

The Girl in the Locked Room: A Ghost Story

Mary Downing Hahn. Clarion, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-328-85092-8

In this spooky middle grade tale by Hahn (One for Sorrow), 12-year-old Jules is tired of being dragged from town to town with her novelist mother and her father, whose work restoring old houses keeps them on the road. Their latest move takes them to Virginia, where Jules encounters a menacing, long-abandoned house, Oak Hill. Readers will know before Jules does that her intuition about the home’s haunting is correct; alternating chapters focus on the title’s ghostly girl who, since her death more than a century before, has remained imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom. When Jules, long attuned to the paranormal, sees the girl’s apparition and hears her voice, she researches past residents of the home, learning that the ghost’s name is Lily. Maisie, a girl Jules meets at the library, tells stories of Oak Hill’s grisly history (a family murdered, a hiker missing), and the two set out to free Lily from the room’s confinement. Allusions to Diana Wynne Jones’s exploration of alternate worlds provide an intriguing dimension to the tale, though the resolution it portends is overly tidy. Hahn’s mystery offers an atmospheric setting, a child ghost, and eerie circumstances that never quite cross into horror. Ages 10–12. [em](Sept.) [/em]