Eleven-year-old Pram, bookish and imaginative, befriends ghosts (most importantly Felix, her protective best friend) and also a living boy at school, Clarence, who "sought out the shadows the way that she did," and together they embark on what turns out to be a perilous quest.
Readers will be hooked from the first line of this lyrical and suspenseful mystery/fantasy (part thriller too) of a brave and compassionate girl who is "tethered to that murky place between this world and the one that comes after it." Pram and Clarence bond over a shared sense of loss. Pram was told her mother died in childbirth and longs to find her father, a sailor, to figure out where she really belongs. She lives with her two very practical aunts who run the Halfway to Heaven Home for the Ageing. Clarence is searching for his mother's spirit; she died in a car accident, and he's spent "nearly a year in the grayness of grief," and so they go to see Lady Savant, a spiritualist with devious ulterior motives whose powers far surpass anything they could have imagined. In her first work for middle-grade readers, DeStefano artfully concocts a moving and multilayered tale that is an effective mix of genres and tones, at times contemplative and philosophical yet also macabre and psychologically sophisticated.
Love, loss, and hope are at the heart of this exciting read. (author's note) (Mystery/fantasy. 9-12)