Readers are challenged to unlock the secrets of a haunted house, with the aid of a "magic glass."
"Open at your own risk!" declares a message on the inside cover of the book, just above an elegant envelope. As if this isn't spooky enough, a skeleton's arm wreathed in smoke points at the envelope from below. Inside the sealed envelope is a rectangle of plastic, 2" x 3 1/4" and 1/8" thick, bordered with a design featuring the sun and the moon. Illustrations and three pages of instructions explain how to use the lens; placing it over selected images in the book guides readers/sleuths, providing clues, code keys and answers. There are 10 two-page spreads, spooky tableaux in mostly dark hues, nicely designed by Junko Miyakoshi. These include a Ouija board; a desk with old books, a candelabra, a skull and three crystal balls (readers choose their own fates from among them); a graveyard; mystery journals; even the gates of Hades. Instructions are in verse, each about a dozen lines per spread. Some are solid enough ("The dead it seems are quite alive / Buzzing in their graveyard hive"), but most are awkward near-rhymes ("Now that you have found your ghosts / It's time to look for UFO's"). The book ends with an answer key. And a bonus! A website (TheSpiritGlass.com) with 13 more puzzles.
Cool ideas, good execution, mediocre text. (Puzzle book. 7-10)