These Fleeting Shadows

Viking. Aug. 2022. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593405116.
Gr 8 Up–An eerie story of family secrets, murder, curses, and the un-living. Seventeen-year-old Helen Vaughan is different: she has never had a friend, is homeschooled, and was accused of attacking a child when she was young. There’s a “darkness” to her that people are repelled by. When her estranged grandfather dies, Helen has to travel back to the Harrowstone Hall estate where she was born, along with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, to attend the funeral. Her family’s striking mansion is eerie, and Helen is immediately uncomfortable, but meeting the teenage cousins she hasn’t seen in years brings her spirits up. More surprisingly, her grandfather has left all his assets to her—she is now the Mistress of Harrowstone—which enrages the rest of the family. There are chilling things happening all around her, and even the resident “witch” (just the groundskeeper’s daughter) can’t understand why Helen is suffering debilitating headaches and is communicating with the undead. Is there a curse in the mansion? She needs to find out soon, before she becomes undead herself. This novel is well paced and truly spooky. There is a queer relationship between the two main characters, and they are very relatable. The mystery is slowly revealed, and the mounting tension will keep teens engaged. Readers will root for Helen from page one in this unnerving story.
VERDICT Recommended for collections where horror and supernatural books circulate well.

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