Twelve-year-old Harper Raine and her family have relocated from New York City to DC during the heat of summer. There’s much to get used to, the incessTwelve-year-old Harper Raine and her family have relocated from New York City to DC during the heat of summer. There’s much to get used to, the incessant heat, and the “gothic charm” of their new house and the renovations.
Her four-year-old brother, Michael is oblivious, and it’s very strange that his room is cold with an unnatural chill when she visits, and he tells her about his new friend, Billy, pointing to a corner.
Michael is frustrated Harper can’t see him. His words trigger a memory of Harper’s when she was five-years-old when she had a best friend her older sister couldn’t see either. “Billy doesn’t like when you call his house stupid.”
Harper covers for Michael when he tries telling their mother. She doesn’t like things she can’t understand. Harper doesn’t understand either.
Nothing has been the same since Harper’s accident. Reviewing her memory book, an "unfinished jigsaw puzzle", that had one missing piece. Unable to remember anything about the fire at school, when she was hospitalized with several broken bones. "It’s what the mind does to forget terrible tragedy." Did she really want to remember what happened?
With the move, Harper’s Korean grandmother lives closer, and she can’t wait to see her. But her mother won’t speak to her. She hasn’t in years. Harper misses her grandmother terribly, and through all the hauntings, and missing memories, Harper works to reunite them. Turns out, Grandma has a few surprises.
Ooh, I LOVED this fun, spooky middle-grade book! The ghosts were truly evil and SCARY! Harper has to go through several hoops to save her brother, and her older sister blames her for the move to D.C. One of my favorite scenes is Harper confronting a salesperson who’s a racist, and she sticks up for herself! The author is the founder of “We Need Diverse Books”.
The first in a series, I can’t wait to read the follow-up, ISLAND OF MONSTERS, for more spooky-fun! Out now!
Charlie Hernandez’s parents are gone. While waiting at child services for placement, he discovers tiny horns spI received an ARC for an honest review.
Charlie Hernandez’s parents are gone. While waiting at child services for placement, he discovers tiny horns sprouting from his head and recalls the stories his abuela told him night after night, especially those about the Morphling, the myth about a young hero who always defeats his nemesis—an evil twice-cursed witch—by manifesting some kind of an animal trait.
But those were just made up stories.
No longer sleeping at the police station, he’s placed temporarily with the elderly doll collector, Mrs. Wilson, and just when life begins to feel normal again, feathers sprout up all over his body—at middle school! Thinking fast, Charlie ditches into the office and finds a long-sleeve sparkly snow jacket in the lost and found. Wearing a ski jacket during the afternoon in Miami shouldn’t bring any unwanted attention.
Then he runs into Alice-the-Terrible, 6-foot-tall-fastball-crushing all-state softball player—and she wants the locket he’s wearing. The one thing he has left of his mother’s.
Not while Violet Rey is around—super-sleuth-school-newspaper-reporter—with the megawatt smile stops Alice in her tracks. The same girl he’s crushed on since first grade. Turns out, Violet has admired Charlie’s father, the animal geneticist, ever since his presentation on the harm in breeding dogs, she even used it for the school paper. Violet is very curious about his mother’s locket and knows it’s an antique (her father owns a pawn shop). Is there anything Violet doesn’t know? But it’s locked and Charlie’s unable to open it. Violet has a look and it clicks open in seconds. Inside, they find a miniature map, with the same horns and feather insignia Charlie sees everywhere.
Together, they make an unlikely team, and go underground with the tiny map, in search of answers to where Charlie’s parents are, and they come face to face with supernatural villains, myths and folklore from all over the Spanish-speaking world. Conversations with a calaca, and La Llorona, the weeping woman, after following the glowing orbs of La Luz Mala, deep into the woods, among many others. Charlie discovers the stories his abuela told him were true. Was she preparing him?
An exciting, fast-paced Middle Grade adventure! With friends standing up for each other and working together. I loved Violet’s character and the skills she has when they’re needed and Charlie’s self-deprecating humor. Rich in cultural mythology, and so much fun! For further study of these fascinating tales, the glossary of Spanish folklore is a good starting point. Perfect for fans of Percy Jackson, or anyone who loves magic, adventure, and tracking down a mystery.