Tansley’s YA fantasy/mystery tells a story of ghosts, curses, and a deadly secret.
Kat Preston is a prep school student who can see ghosts, or, as she calls them, “unbelievables.” She’s tried to deny her power ever since she was 9, when a friendly ghost saved her from being possessed by another spirit. Ghosts are invading her life once again as she researches the lives of Cassie Mallory and Sebastian Radcliffe, who left only two things behind when they disappeared on their 1886 wedding night: a pool of blood and a family curse. Her instructor, professor Astor, invites her to be part of a team that will investigate the disappearances at their source—Castle Creighton on Connecticut’s Isle of Acacia. Kat visits the castle only a few weeks before a family curse is due to strike the final Radcliffe heir. Any hopes of avoiding the supernatural are dashed when Kat and her antagonistic teacher’s-assistant Evan, are pulled through a magical mirror. They find themselves in the bodies of Sebastian’s friends Toria and Alistair shortly before the Radcliffe wedding in 1886. They both have to return to their own time before their souls become too weak, but before that, they must stop Sebastian and Cassie’s bloody disappearance. As time runs out, Kat’s and Evan’s connections to the deadly plot become clear. The novel’s murder mystery is intriguing and grows more complex as its supernatural elements are unveiled. Readers will enjoy connecting the dots and guessing at the motivations of the Radcliffes’ wedding guests. However, Kat proves to be one of the novel’s most unbelievable elements. Her supernatural gifts grow more fanciful and powerful as the novel progresses, and her knowledge of obscure topics seems unnatural for a student who appeals to her professor for a B-plus on a paper; she can also identify Rococo artists by name, tell the difference between statues of Oceanus and Poseidon by their tridents, and use words such as “iolite” and “labradorite” to describe eye colors. As a result, she seems almost too perfect.
An intricate supernatural mystery with an overly gifted heroine.