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The Secret of Laurel Oaks

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  610 ratings  ·  92 reviews
When Lila and her family visit Laurel Oaks Plantation in Louisiana, her parents and brother scoff at the claim that the house is haunted. But secretly, Lila suspects there are ghostly presences willing to communicate with her, and her alone. One spirit eager to tell her story is Daphne, a slave girl at Laurel Oaks in the 1840s, who was blamed for the poisoning deaths of tw ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Starscape
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  610 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Hayley Tolan
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Secret of Laurel Oaks is a ghost story based on stories about The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana.
The author’s main purpose for writing this novel is to entertain readers. It is suspenseful, mysterious, and spooky from the beginning to the end.
The theme of this book is to not believe all the rumors you may hear. In the book, a young slave girl was accused of poisoning her master’s wife and two daughters. She was hanged for it despite any evidence proving she committ
Shraddha Saraf
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Awesome cozy story. Thanks Shanu (my sister) for giving me this to read. Just the type of stories we love.
Heather Gunnell
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Staff Pick

This story takes place in Louisiana. The fictional plantation is Laurel Oaks but the true location is the legendary Myrtles Plantation.

Ruby weaves an interesting storyline between the pas and the present. The characters are interesting and her descriptions make the book seem very realistic. Great creepy ghost encounters make the book even better!
Ashley Castillo
Nov 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is called The Secrets of Laurel Oaks. I think this is a good book. I think this is a good book because it about haunted places in America. And these stories are true.Lila is one of the characters in this story. She thinks the house they are staying in haunted. So they are scared to be there. So this is why this is a good book.
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely love this book!
I couldn't stop reading, even though it took a month to finish it which was because I started reading other books.
This is my most favourite ghost story. It was really interesting and thrilling!
An ambitious book that didn't connect with me until the very end as I read the author's notes. Two narratives -- one in modern times, one from over 200 years ago. Lila, visiting the New Orleans area (and the ancient 'hotel' on the site of the former plantation Laurel Oaks) from New Mexico with her family and Daphne, a ghost of a young slave who lived and died on Laurel Oaks. I found Daphne's voice difficult to fall into...sometimes I was jarred by her two stories...her life and death, and her wa ...more
Sarah Carlson
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book and it was really fun to read! If you're into scary mystery stories this book would be really good for you. There is two main characters named Daphne and Lila, Lila is a human who goes to a scary house for the weekend- like a haunted hotel. She ends up staying longer then expected with the other character named Daphne. Daphne is a ghost who haunts the house. No one can see Daphne that is alive except for Lila. There is also rumors about Daphne that she killed two people ...more
Shelly Reed
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
New Orleans flavor with a spooky twist

I was looking for a good NOLA read and this YA book didn’t disappoint. It is told from two sides: modern day Lila and past Daphne. A little spooky because there are ghosts in it. The truth becomes revealed about Daphne’s death in the end.
Sarah Hepler
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story for a cozy Saturday on the couch. Suspenseful, fun to read and interesting historical info.
Leissa Kimball
Great creepy ghost story for the elementary age group.
Amanda Harris
Good but slow moving book
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow. Just wow. From my last status update, you could tell that I did not like this book at all, but a lot has changed in these last few chapters. I really liked The Secret of Laurel Oaks, but even though the book was described as a "chilling ghost story" I wasn't scared at any point. So basically, the story is switches between two character's points of views, Lila's and Daphne's. Lila is a girl who comes with her family (her mom, dad, and brother) to this hotel sort of place, called the Laurel O ...more
Lila, 13, and her family are in Louisiana for an academic presentation her mother is giving. Lila is put in charge of finding their accommodations, and - perhaps infected by ghost hunting fever - she books the spookiest place she can find. It’s an old plantation called Laurel Oaks, and it was beset by tragedy more than once in its storied past. As a result, its halls are teeming with spirits - or so says Camilla, the cryptic caretaker. But Lila starts to believe (or else suspect that she’s crazy ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
pretty good
the book smelled good too idk
Jun 20, 2009 rated it liked it
I love a good ghost story, so I was intrigued by both the cover and the premise of this book. Thirteen-year-old Lila and her family stay at Laurel Oaks Plantation in Louisiana while her mother delivers an address at a university. They are the only guests at the house, which the tour guide/caretaker assures them is haunted. The opening narrator is one of the plantation's ghosts, a slave girl named Daphne. Daphne's history is juxtaposed with the present day, including her interaction with Lila and ...more
Oct 28, 2010 rated it liked it
I have a feeling that I would have been all about this book when I was in Jr High, which is good for the book since it is for Young Readers. As it is I have been spoiled by all the adult ghost story fiction/nonfiction that I have read. I was looking for more detail, I wanted to know more about small points in the book. The baby statue was weird. I suppose I agree that it should go in the museum (cue Dr. Jones, here) but originally it was probably meant to help out one of the daughters if she end ...more
For my work I was told that I had to read a kids fiction book. So I asked myself? What appeals to me?

There was a recent episode of GHOST HUNTERS that I found interesting. They were at the Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana. I did a little bit of research on the plantation and found out someone had written a fiction book after visiting the place. It just so happens Lois Ruby, who is a children’s author, wrote it.

I went into work the next day, (I work in a library) and grabbed the book. I finished
Oct 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
Oh my goshness! This book was FANTASTIC!! Its just what I like... NO LOVE! haha Its a suspenseful ghost story with a hint of romance and betrayal. The story is Based on an actuall Louisiana Plantation. No its not called Laurel Oaks, in real life its name is Myrtle Plantation and considerd to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. you can even go to the Myrtle Plantation's website ( and check out the tour times and what room ...more
Dec 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a ghost story based on a real plantation in Louisiana, Myrtles Plantation, that has ghosts. Laurel Oaks does, too. The chapters tell the entire story by alternating between Lila Barry, whose family come to stay at the plantation and find they are the only guests, and Daphne, a long-ago slave girl who was wrongly accused of murder and died when she was only 15. The ghosts in this story are real. Daphne has been waiting almost 200 years for the right person to come along and free her spiri ...more
My eyes kept veering to this book and I didn't want to get it cause I'm not a big fan of scary books or mysteries. I'm a scaredy cat. I admit. But this story was between Daphne and Lila. Daphne part i figured out 3/4 of the book was recalling her past. Like your life flashes right before your eyes when you die or go to heaven? Yup. Lila is very much alive and is spending two days in Laurel Oaks where Daphne worked and is accused of poisoning Mrs. Amelia, Molly, and Alice. But then weird accurans ...more
Jun 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I honestly didn't realize that this book was going to have anything to do with the stories that came from the Myrtles until I started reading it. I have heard those stories my entire life being that I am from Louisiana. I thought the book was good, but it definitely wasn't an enthralling page turner by any means. I liked the way that it switched back and forth between the two main characters in the story-Daphne and Lila. It did a great job of telling the stories of the two, and I also liked the ...more
Mar 25, 2009 rated it liked it
The Secret of Laurel Oaks is a ghost story loosely based on the ghostly legends surrounding the Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana. I had a hard time getting in to the story because I have stayed at the Myrtles couldn't seem to get into the author's story it intrigued me enough that I had to finish it. As a ghost story, it is creepy enough but stretches the imagination. The back and forth narration by modern-day Lila and ghostly Daphne keep the story moving as they unravel the tru ...more
Jul 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This is a cute book for middle school girls who are interested in a little bit of history. It takes place in an old Louisana plantation home where there are supposedly ghosts. When Lila and her brother Gabe show up with their parents they discover they are the key to the mystery of the deaths of the former owners in the 1800s. Daphne (a slave girl) was accused of poisoning her mistress and the two daughters; is that what really happened? This story is told in the two voices of Daphne and Lila w ...more
Miranda Fender
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!! It has that spooky factor to it that we all love in spooky ghost stories but at the same time it doesn't give you a dark and depressed feeling. You learn about what went on long ago and at the same time see the mystery unravel before your eyes!! The magic found in between these pages is not measurable by any. You find yourself believing in these trapped souls who have work to do before they can retire to the spirit world. I could connect with the characters and imagine the pl ...more
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is pretty scary when you could imagin whats going on.This place in the book is a truely hunted so i get freaked out.Lila looks for a place in internet and finds a haunted house to stay in.Laurel Oaks is haunted by a girl Lilas age,Daphne.Daphne is trpped and needs Lilas help to get
free and go on to the other world.
I still get spoked and cant sleep at night.You could even tell my parents.I know its hilarious a 13 year old girl is scared 'cause of a book.If you knew my expi
Sami K.
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Secret of Laurel Oaks by Lois Ruby was a great book to read. The book started of by along time ago there was this family who lived there and a girl around my age named Daphne was killed. She was accused of killing two little girls and there mothers. Now is been 100 years later and this family went on vacation to this house. There was a girl around my age named lila. Her and her family are the only ones in the house. READ THIS BOOK TO FIND OUT what things are going to happen to them. I like t ...more
Jan 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a great book! I just finished it this morning. It follows the basics of the Myrtle's legend but is a wonderful refreshing look at a telling trapped in time. Lois has added her own twist to the traditional "legend" with different characters, plot changes and even though it happend well over a century ago it is brought to life today. Lois reveals a story line that could have actually happend despite what the "legend" tells. With an open mind to the paranormal I found I couldn't put this o ...more
Dayna Smith
Dec 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-shelf
This story is based on the true history of one of the most haunted places in America. Daphne was a slave, now she is one of many ghosts who haunt Laural Oaks - once a beautiful plantation, now a bed and breakfast. Lila and her brother come to stay while their parents work in the area. Even as they arrive strange things begin to happen. Lila is convinced she must solve Daphne's secret to set her spirit free, but is this possible? A creepy tale of slavery, cruelty, betrayal, and ultimately hope.
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Lois Ruby is the author of fifteen books for middle-graders and teens, including STEAL AWAY HOME, SKIN DEEP, and THE SECRET OF LAUREL OAKS. She and her husband live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the foothills of the awesome Sandia Mountains. Lois explores lots of haunted places, including ghostly locations in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and even a few spooky spots in Australia and Thailand. No spir ...more