Boarding school turns from magical to deadly in this debut.
After discovering Frost House, the shabby-chic Victorian hidden on the edge of campus, and convincing the dean to let her and her best friends room in it, Leena returns to start senior year of Barcroft (a quintessential New England prep school) with an unexpected roommate, eccentric Celeste. When not photographing dead beetles, Celeste tries to cover up unexplained events at Frost, from a closet that smells like death to bruises all over her body. Instead of the idyllic year Leena planned, she begins hiding out in her own closet when she sinks into anxiety and experiences her own strange occurrences. After Leena dates Celeste’s older brother, David, who took a year off to care for their father, who suffers from schizoaffective disorder, the roommates, both vying for David’s attention, initiate cat-and-mouse games. It’s up to readers to figure out who—or what—is causing all the mental instability in Frost House among the plot twists and turns. Baer has a knack for dialogue and creating creepy situations that will intrigue teens. But because the story line is rather repetitive and drawn out, the surprise ending makes more of a whimper than a bang.For those fans of Gail Giles and Nancy Werlin who don’t mind thrillers with a slower pace. (Thriller. 13 & up)