SPIRIT by J.P. Hightman


Age Range: 14 & up
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Ineffective gothic horror scaffolds on the Salem witch trials. In 1892, a rich young couple rides a ceremonial train between Salem and the neighboring town of Blackthorne, to which, legend has it, three witches (a woman, her beloved and her interfering mother) fled 200 years earlier—witches who were “the real forces of darkness,” unlike the innocent people executed due to “hysteria and hate.” Investors want to revitalize Blackthorne, but the train breaks down and the passengers are terrorized and, over time, massacred. Survivors Tess and Tobias, age 17 (but adult in this Victorian context, and married, with no particular young-adult issues), have a connection to the spirit world that holds the only hope of conquering the witches. The most powerful witch is the mother, who seeks to separate the younger two, who are clearly meant to parallel the protagonists. While Hightman’s ending provides appropriate chills, the prose along the way is purple and melodramatic, featuring weak explanations, a slipshod narrative viewpoint and red herrings that cheaply deceive the reader. (Horror. YA)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-085063-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2008