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Reviewed by:
  • Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters
  • Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor

Waters, Erica Ghost Wood Song. Harper, 2020 [368p] Trade ed. ISBN 9780062894229 $17.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9780062894243 $9.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 7-10

High schooler Shady can play a mean fiddle, but she could never match her deceased father, who was able to raise the dead with his music. She's going to have to figure out his tricks soon, however, because now her brother Jesse has been accused of her stepfather's murder, and the only way Shady can prove his innocence is to hear from the dead man himself and find out who the true killer is. The secrets behind her dad's talents, however, are darker than she realized and connected to a painful family past that neither her mother or aunt want to talk about; Jesse even seems willing to take the fall for a crime he didn't commit to keep Shady from messing around with the dead. Unfortunately, the ghostly elements never reach true creepiness here, with both the story of Shady's family's past and the urgency of Jesse's current situation often interrupted by Shady's love triangle with her best friend and a new guy, and the tension stutters as focus shifts among the various storylines with little direction. What it lacks in terror, however, it makes up for in atmosphere with Shady's rustic drawl tinging her narration, and her descriptions of playing are lyrical, connecting her grief over her father and chaotic family to an eerie folklore-inspired song. Readers looking for a spine-chilling scare will want to check out Parker's Beware the Wild (BCCB 12/14), but for those who love a good jam session and a bit of folklore, Shady's tale may satisfy. [End Page 499]



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