- Bad Girl Gone by Temple Mathews
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-250-05881-2 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4668-6324-8 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 7–10
Sixteen-year-old Echo Stone learns that the strange orphanage she’s awakened in actually houses the ghosts of murdered children, a depressing fact she figures out when she manages to find her way home, only to discover it surrounded by police tape and her parents crying over the violent death of their daughter. The only way out of Middle House and onto wherever souls at rest go is to find her murderer and exact vengeance, a task with which her fellow residents of Middle House are happy to assist her. The premise is intriguing, but Echo makes a milquetoast narrator, buckling under any pressure and playing the damsel in distress even in death as the dreamy, ghostly Cole comes to her rescue more than once; her focus on mundane aspects of her former life, like her weight and fashion choices, also seems misplaced. However, the mystery itself is well plotted with effective red herrings and possible suspects, and Echo’s ultimate takedown of the culprit is gratifying. It’s the other Middle House kids, though, who steal the show; they are goofy, eccentric, and entirely sympathetic in the raw deal they got out of their shortened lives. This is not quite as dark as Wallace’s Shallow Graves (BCCB 1/16), but it certainly serves up a satisfying dish of revenge from the other side.