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William Bell.
Toronto, ON: Stoddart, 1989.
196pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 0-7737-2267-X. CIP.

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up

Reviewed by Irene Gordon.

Volume 17 Number 5
1989 September

This young adult novel by William Bell, an Ontario high school English teacher, and the author of Crabbe ¹ and The Cripples' Club (Irwin, 1988), combines the realistic teenage problem novel with fantasy. The heroine, an eighth grader named Karen Stone, is having trouble accepting the death of her twin brother Kenny, who died accidentally two years previously.

She and her older brother John discover and Indian graveyard inhabited by a 150-year-old, cigar-smoking ghost. Karen, John, and Noah, a classmate with a strong interest in the occult, communicate with the ghost, and they learn some fascinating facts about the history of their town and about the murder that took place in the Stones' house 150 years ago. In the process, Karen finally comes to terms with Kenny's death.

The author successfully establishes both the realistic and the fantastic aspects of his story with excellent descriptions of physical setting and thumb-nail sketches of the main characters. As the story progresses, however, the tension between the realistic and fantastic is not developed. Karen's terror and her continuing anguish over her twin's death are well done, making the book one that fans of mystery and ghost stories should enjoy.

Some adults may object to what might be considered an anti-religious bias in the book. Noah has utterly rejected his father, a very unsympathetic Baptist clergyman, and all that he stands for. Because the conflict between father and son is incidental to the main plot and the author makes no attempt to resolve it, one wonders why it was introduced into the story at all.

Recommended with reservations.

Irene Gordon, Westdale Junior High School, Winnipeg, MB.

¹ Reviewed vol. XIV/6 November 1986, p.267.

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