Spooky tension, friendship and compassion permeate this exquisitely plotted middle-grade ghost story.
Polly wants to see ghosts, and Rose can’t stop seeing them. When the two 12-year-olds first meet, hearing each other through the adjoining wall in the attics of their adjacent row houses, Polly is convinced Rose is a ghost—until they meet in person, and even then she’s not sure. Rose certainly looks ghostly, with her pale face, shadowed eyes, and dark, wild hair, and Polly’s twin brothers, Matthew and Mark, are concerned enough to warn Polly away from Rose, afraid she will steal Polly’s soul. But the girls continue their secret friendship, trying to uncover the mystery of Rose’s aunt Winnifred, who, they discover, died at 13 and who, they think, is haunting Rose’s attic. As related in first-person narration that switches from Polly to Rose and back again, even within chapters, the story structure weaves its way in and out—riveting and tumbling with tension but never obvious, leaving readers wondering if anything is really as it seems. The protagonists are both spooky and delightfully down-to-earth, and readers will seesaw between chills and snorts of laughter. When Cotter delivers the final twist, it is a denouement that becomes a springboard for greater revelations that lead to even greater reader satisfaction.
Middle-grade storytelling at its very best—extraordinary. (Fantasy. 9-13)