Further misfortune befalls a girl who can’t escape her ghosts.
Being the new girl in Drearford, New York, means heaps of unwanted attention for Hendricks Becker-O’Malley, who’d much rather begin anew with a clean slate. Her traumatic past was the main reason behind her family’s relocation to the small town, with its dreary gray skies and sinister secrets. However, her new home—Drearford’s derelict Steele House—offers no comfort. The disturbances start small: the usual moans and groans of an old house, a creepy doll singing of its own accord, devious laughter from another room. At first, Hendricks’ past shrouds her in self-doubt fueled by shame. But then she meets Eddie Ruiz, a damaged boy who lost an older brother and younger sister to Steele House’s cursed, evil spirits. Together the pair plan to vanquish the ghosts, attempting a misguided cleansing ritual in the process. As Hendricks and Eddie develop a close bond, Steele House launches its final onslaught. Vega’s (The Merciless IV: Last Rites, 2018, etc.) take on the haunted house subgenre features an eclectic, well-fitted mix of supernatural spookiness and gore. Overall, the novel doesn’t rise above its creaky cliché-riddled plot, but the author excels at portraying the aftermath of a toxic, abusive relationship from Hendricks’ perspective. Though Hendricks is assumed white, the supporting cast offers some diversity.
A gently horrid reminder that some ghosts can be very real. (Horror. 14-18)