A Curious Tale of the In-Between

224p. Bloomsbury. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781619636002.
Gr 4–7—Pram Bellamy possesses a strange talent: she can see and hear ghosts. Unfortunately, her gift makes fitting in at school a challenge, so she prefers the company of her books and her ghostly friend, Felix. Then Pram meets Clarence, a lonely boy who has also lost his mother, and the two forge a friendship through their common bond. Just as Pram is beginning to embrace a more ordinary life, however, her extraordinary nature puts her in danger. The mysterious Madame Savant is more than willing to kidnap and murder to get what she wants—and she means to use Pram's abilities to fuel her own ambitions. Bereft of friends and family and struggling with powers she's just beginning to understand, Pram has to break free of her captors. DeStefano's story is startlingly dark, with mature themes of death, madness, and suicide coupled with a lively paranormal adventure. The author explores not only the mysteries of the beyond but also the impact of absent parents and the healing powers of friendship. While the emotionally charged narrative is less likely to satisfy those looking for a spooky thrill, more sophisticated readers will appreciate the vivid characters with rich internal lives.
VERDICT Readers who enjoyed A.J. Paquette's Rules for Ghosting (Bloomsbury, 2013) and Grave Images by Jenny Goebel (Scholastic, 2013) will want to give this title a try.

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