It’s hard enough for sixth grader Cordelia Liu to be the new girl at Elijah Z. Shadow Middle School, and that’s before she even realizes she can see the ghosts there!
Luckily, another boy has the same ability, and together with another scientifically minded classmate, the three new friends set out to help the ghosts find peace. Little do they know that they are up against forces (both solid and spectral) with less-than-good intentions, dating back to Mr. Elijah Shadow himself, the African American architect of the creepy old New Hampshire mansion that houses the Shadow School. As they explore the mansion and the ghosts’ needs, the three encounter more and more questions as well as opposition: Why are there so many ghosts in one building? And who is trying to stop the kids from helping them? White hits just the right balance of humor, mystery, and scariness for a preteen audience, and what seems at first to be a straightforward ghost story takes several exciting turns with new revelations. The ultimate conflict may be a bit far-fetched, but a healthy suspension of disbelief and emotional connection with one of the ghosts make for a satisfying resolution nonetheless. Cordelia is biracial (Chinese/white); of her two friends, Benji is implied Latinx, and Agnes presents white.
A fun addition to the growing genre of scary books for middle graders; readers will be eager to see more of this smart and spunky trio in further spooky adventures. (Paranormal adventure. 9-12)