The Girl in White by Lindsay Currie. Sourcebooks, 2022. 9781728236544
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5
Format: Paperback ARC (publication date 9/1/22)
What did you like about the book? Twelve-year-old Mallory and her family have recently settled in Eastport, Massachusetts, taking over a local family restaurant called The Hill. The town, with its 7,000 residents, old houses, and lighthouse couldn’t be more different from Chicago, but what’s most different is that it’s rumored to be haunted by ghosts. Shades of Salem, the whole town is awash with cobwebs, witches hats, and urban legends. Most famous is the story of Sweet Molly, who cursed the town after her beloved brother Liam was forced to take his ship out in a storm and lost his life at sea. To drum up tourist dollars, everyone in town participates in reenactments and shenanigans to bring in the bucks. But Mallory, a sensitive girl who dreams of being a photographer, starts having nightmares and acting strangely, even seeing and being tormented by a terrifying, shriveled ghost who turns out to be Molly. Her neighbor Joshua (also a newcomer) shares her scary visions and together with pals Emmie (a skeptic) and Bri (a budding actress set to play Sweet Molly in the town’s anniversary celebration), the group sets out to solve the mystery of what the ghost wants and avoid what they fear is a looming catastrophe. This is a fast-paced, PG-rated mystery, with lots of jump scares but no gore. I was glad (spoiler alert) that Molly turned out to be a real and vengeful ghost and not a Scooby Doo-style evil landlord up to some dirty tricks. The bonds between the friends, their free run of the small town, and the many colorful characters that live there will make this a satisfying spooky selection for upper elementary and middle grade readers. All characters cue as White.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I was uneasy and unconvinced with Mallory’s secrecy in regards to her parents. She never tells them anything about what’s going on, even though they seem awesome, loving, and invested in her, albeit busy with running The Hill. Some parts of the plot didn’t make sense to me, especially as the big finale approached and the kids’ plans went awry.
To whom would you recommend this book? It is hard to find truly scary middle grade novels, so I would recommend this to kids grades 4-8 looking for a Goosebumps-style read. Currie has several other horror books out for this age group, so if she’s popular in your library, you may want to get this one, especially with its New England setting!
Who should buy this book? Elementary, middle school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: June 26, 2022