A Properly Unhaunted Place

192p. illus. by Kelly Murphy. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Aug. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481469159.
Gr 4–6—Ghosts and spirits live everywhere, except in the town of Ingot. Eleven-year-old Rosa Diaz and her mother have relocated to the sleepy hamlet following the death of Rosa's father. Accustomed to the big city, Rosa questions why her mother would move them to such a dead place. Rosa's mother is an "appeasement librarian," endowed with the ability to comfort ghostly spirits. Libraries and books are usually brimming with ghostly energy but not, unfortunately, in the ghost-free Ingot library. Rosa feels her mother's particular talents are wasted until the girl attends Ingot's yearly Renaissance Festival. The festival is attacked by a dynamic evil spirit that renders her mother defenseless. It is up to Rosa to uncover the town's supernatural goings-on. She befriends a local boy named Jasper. United, they fight to bring justice to the living and the dead. Though the writing is clear and the narrative unfolds quickly, the characters are somewhat flat. The world-building is similarly wanting; the spells and objects used to manipulate the ghost come out of nowhere and don't feel believable.
VERDICT While the cute cover and fast pace may attract fans of ghost stories, a lack of character development limits this title's appeal.

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