When a sixth-grade Florida girl is transformed into a 20-something woman, she and her friends search for a cure in this debut YA paranormal novel.
On the eve of her 12th birthday, blond-haired Tabitha “Tabby” Easterland tells her best friends, Kat Dorsett and Dolly Hargrave, that she has one wish: to go with Finn McKinna to the junior high dance next year. But when Tabby wakes up the next morning, she discovers that she seems to have aged more than 10 years. Luckily, she’s not at home with her Aunt Patti, but at Kat’s house for a sleepover. (Tabby’s mother is dead; her father is institutionalized.) Tabby can’t go home, for the somewhat flimsy reason that she might be jailed “for the kidnapping of...herself.” The girls manage to establish a new identity for Tabby (Elise Mulligan), who gets a teaching job at her own school while they look for a remedy. Her mother’s diary, strange dreams of two evil sisters, and odd experiences confuse Tabby until Mrs. Bumble, a fellow teacher whose spare room the young woman moves into, gives her the bad news: She’s under a curse. A school field trip leads to a dangerous, dramatic confrontation with the Black and White sisters, named for their hair color. Though Tabby learns more about her family, the curse, and other matters, much work remains; the tale will continue in a sequel. In her novel, Elaine mixes up an entertaining blend of middle school best friend shenanigans with the supernatural—witchcraft, curses, a mystical society founded by an ancient civilization—and a family mystery. These last two elements are complex and well thought out, offering several surprises along the way. Although the book feels slow at 300-plus pages, frustratingly so since the story isn’t finished, it could grapple more with the implications of Tabby’s adult body. She’s embarrassed by her new figure but any interest or exploration stops there. And while it’s understandable that young people don’t want to look ancient, must “old and ruined” go together? Nevertheless, readers will likely be eager for the sequel.
An enjoyable and well-written supernatural tale, despite loose ends and a few missteps.