A skeptic finds herself caught up in paranormal shenanigans.
Bernard situates readers in Southern, swampy, alligator-populated Bohring, amid the debris of 11-year-old Karis “Kick” Winter’s explosion. Kick plans a career in STEM, like her “super scientist” mother, Dr. Georgia Winter, who leaves Kick with her admittedly fake-psychic and quite stylish mother, Grandma Missouri, at her home, the Hollows. Kick’s visit coincides with the 100-year occurrence of the town’s curse, in which “the children turned into monsters and took over the town.” Kick’s scientific mind dismisses the lore, which comes with a nursery rhyme, even as she lies about being a psychic to fit into her new school. This strategy backfires when one of the mean-girl bullies demands that she use that ability to remove the curse. Then Kick smells the “porta potty” odor and sees a “smear of glowing green” and “horrible figures,” and she wonders if science can so easily dismiss these supernatural phenomena…and, halfway through the book, readers will wonder if the plot will pick up or stay plodding along. When done well, Southern ease, as heard in its legendary drawl and tasted in its cuisine, slows the pace to an elegant, earthy perfection. Alas, here Bernard’s use of the Southern idiom just bogs her plot down. There are some secondary characters of color, but most of the cast presents white. Several of Kick’s experiments are appended.
This ambling tale takes too long to get going. (Paranormal adventure. 8-12)