Contemporary English kids and a restless Victorian ghost inhabit a mystery with an inventive reveal in this sequel to The Theft & the Miracle (2007).
Hannah’s family temporarily moves house and her father immediately departs for a speaking tour, leaving Hannah—whose mother is present but slightly irrelevant—vulnerable to domestic oddities. Wallpaper peels, electricity flickers and the house seems to be crumbling on purpose. Hannah and friend Sam try to find connections between a discolored, pin-stuck doll in the attic and the doll’s owner, a girl named Maisie who lived in the house and died in 1877 at age 11. Damp weather makes Hannah dream of lurid green leaves and a fire she can hear but not see. As Hannah takes her school exams, the calendar advances towards Maisie’s death-date. Was Maisie murdered? Does she want her murderer identified? Wade takes readers through two suspects (first Maisie’s ugly maiden aunt, then Maisie’s comely mother, textually challenging assumptions about appearance) to an answer both relieving and tragic. Despite a narrative voice that’s sometimes stiff or too descriptive, Hannah and Sam seem younger than their 14 years. A clue-offering secondary plot is implausibly convenient. However, there’s plenty of spookiness, and the truth about Maisie’s death and Hannah’s dreams is surprisingly interesting.
While this isn’t the strongest restless-ghost story in characterization or voice, the tidbit it reveals about Victorian history is memorable. (Ghost story. 8-12)