SOMETHING UPSTAIRS by Avi

SOMETHING UPSTAIRS

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Age Range: 12 - 15
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KIRKUS REVIEW

            A suspenseful tale of multiple hauntings, time travel, and murder in old Rhode Island.

            Young Kenny Huldorf’s room in an 18th-century Providence house comes complete with bloodstained floor and the ghost of Caleb, a slave murdered nearly 200 years ago.  Naturally prompted to do some research in the local historical-society library, Kenny meets the crabbed, sinister Pardon Willinghast, who seems to know more about Kenny’s house than he’ll tell.  Caleb appears repeatedly, claiming that he will never rest until his killer is discovered; he cajoles a reluctant Kenny into promising help, then takes him back to that fateful night in 1800 – whereupon, in effect, Kenny becomes the ghost.  He also receives a dreadful shock:  Willinghast is there, waiting for him – it seems that Caleb has brought back others before, but Willinghast is absolutely determined that Caleb should die.  Kenny is given the same choice as his predecessors:  kill Caleb or stay trapped in the past.

            As always, Avi weaves accurate historical detail into his story and builds up tension expertly.  Kenny escapes his dilemma by shooting Willinghast; he returns to the present confused, disturbed, and still haunted, this time by the memory of his own act of violence.  The author presents this as a true story, told to him on a school visit by a young fan, and indeed it does have a realistically indeterminate end.  A thoughtful, spooky, ingenious treat for ghost-story fans.                     (Fiction.  12-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0545214912
Page count: 148pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1988




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