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RILEY’S GHOST by John David Anderson


by John David Anderson

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-06-298597-2
Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Haunted by both middle school classmates and actual ghosts, a tween gets caught in a frightful situation.

Thirteen-year-old Riley Flynn, a sensitive, caring vegetarian, struggles to fit in at Northridge Middle School, where she is viciously bullied. Her social situation goes from bad to worse when her refusal to dissect a frog in science class prompts a jock classmate to cruelly prank her. The prank sets off a chain of events that ultimately land Riley locked in the science lab supply closet after school hours by some cruel girls. Riley escapes the closet only to discover she’s trapped inside the school. Her only companion is Max, the ghost of a dead man who has possessed the body of a half-dissected frog. Max warns of another, more dangerous ghost. Between mysterious messages, strange noises, and glimpses of memories that aren’t her own, can Riley survive the school’s haunted halls and make it out alive? Anderson’s latest carries a similar anti-bullying message to his Posted (2017), although packaged with creepy, ghoulish fare. The steadily paced narrative mixes Riley’s memories with present horrors, giving a periodic reprieve from chills and thrills. Overall, this ghost story is more character-driven than pulse-pounding. Its slowly unraveling central mystery presents a humanizing account of outcasts, the friends who betray them, and the trauma that follows. Riley and the majority of the cast are coded White.

School-based spooks backed by a strong social message.

(Paranormal. 10-14)