A Properly Unhaunted Place – written by William Alexander, illustrated by Kelly Murphy


        A Properly Unhaunted Place – written by William Alexander, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781481495271, 2017

Format: ARC

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Genre:  Mystery/Paranormal

What did you like about the book?  Rosa is comforted by the presence of ghosts and the creaks of old spirits moving in a new haunt; paranormal activity is actually quite normal for everyone, especially for the daughter of the world’s greatest Ghost Appeasement Specialist. What, then, is she supposed to do in the only unhaunted town in the world? Ingot seems to only have an inaccurate Renaissance Festival, a mean librarian, and a boy named Jasper who is actually pretty good company. Only hours after her arrival, Rosa and Jasper confront a mysterious creature that makes them think Ingot might not be completely ghost-free…

Our two protagonists are self-assured and clever in completely unique styles, making them a great team for a ghostly investigation. Jasper’s struggles with his slight introversion and Rosa’s battle with a hot temper give them a depth that is clearly expressed even in a shorter novel. The supporting cast of characters, while minimal, are well-defined if a little prosaic.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Alexander’s world of commonplace poltergeists and hauntings is fun and different but we only catch a small glimpse of this through Rosa’s memories before Ingot. A universe full of ghosts and phantoms has a fantastic potential to excite and enthuse readers but this is utilized only as backstory instead of a focus to impress or thrill. This missed chance is one of many as the story speeds through the plot and world-building.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This quick read will appeal to reluctant readers looking for a slightly spooky mystery and may find an audience with those looking for something to read after one of Eva Ibboston’s ghostly books.

Who should buy this book? Childrens’ library collections looking to really bulk up their ghost stories

Where would you shelve it ? Junior/Juvenile Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No. This is a cool idea wrapped in mundane writing and execution.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date of reviewMay 7, 2017

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