Minnesota siblings Mel, Will, and Ariel Griffin are excited to spend a week in England with their favorite aunt, Effie, at her home in the Griffinage, a cottage that is near a grand old manor.
Upon arrival, Meg feels a strange, itchy presence. Will, an adept pianist, hears a haunting tune from the church bells only to learn that it hasn’t been played on them in 50 years. And there are legends that the manor is haunted. In the cottage attic, 5-year-old Ariel encounters a ghost-child, Kay Kay. Ariel sees her as a friend, but Aunt Effie’s lovable Newfoundland dog feels the need to protect the child, as Kay Kay wishes to lure her into a well to her death in order to have a companion forever. This ghost story, though slow in some parts, has a quality of intrigue that could chill even readers older than the targeted middle-grade audience. The children are multiracial, a fact readers may feel has been introduced more as an accessory than anything else; they are described with curly hair and passing-light skin (but depicted on the cover with very brown skin), but their heritage is otherwise largely elided, cultural tension introduced and then dismissed almost before readers notice. The book otherwise hews to the white default.
A scary tale hobbled by a disingenuous family history. (Supernatural adventure. 10-12)