Nantucket’s ghosts work alongside living islanders to face the challenge of development that guts old houses.
One year after a tragic boating accident, the ghost of Mary Chase, dead over 100 years, wakes in a windless, 21st-century November. She’s the new Town Crier, needed to warn others about the imminent destruction of her 18th-century house, one of many being “rehabilitated” for new, off-island owners. She watches the Old North Gang—Gabe Pinkham and Paul, Cyrus, and Maddie Coffin, all white island children of mostly English descent; biracial Phoebe Folger Antoine, whose mom is white and whose dad is Jamaican; and Dominican–Cape Verdean twins Maria and Markos Ramos—as they encounter ghosts from an earlier time and begin to work with them to thwart the developers through a string of “accidents.” And, at a crucial moment, when Phee’s house is threatened, once-quiet Mary finds her voice, screaming to wake the world. The author of such well-loved, intricately plotted mysteries as Chasing Vermeer (2004), Balliett outdoes herself here with this surprising story, set in a lovingly depicted present-day Nantucket and peopled with ordinary citizens who, like their predecessors, work with their hands. Phee and her grandfather have even started an organization to help homeless island workers. Mary’s first-person, present-tense account weaves in and out of an omniscient observation of the children’s actions as the line blurs between the living and the dead.
Modern themes and old-fashioned values in a ghostly Nantucket wonder, with a twist. (Fantasy. 9-13)