Perfect spooky story for middle grade readers
Avery enjoys spending summers at her Grandma’s Southern farm with her brother, but this year is different. Her brother no longer wants to play their imaginary games, so now Avery is left to her own devices. When she meets Julian, a boy also staying in the area for the summer, the two begin a film project about the creepy Hilliard House, a place that Avery has been forbidden to go to. As the project develops, Avery will uncover spooky secrets, a strange mystery, and learn the meaning of friendship.
GHOSTLIGHT by Sonia Gensler has a phenomenal setting, perfect for a young scary story. Gensler captures the Southern, small town atmosphere wonderfully, and the mysterious Hilliard House makes for an enjoyable and entertaining tale.
As exciting as the spooky moments in the story are, the depth of the family dynamics stole the show for me. Gensler explores several different types of relationships, from brother and sister to son and father to parent and grandparent. There are many serious undercurrent themes, such as when Avery feels a little lonely when her mother is too busy to give her attention and especially Julian’s complex relationship with his mother who has a mental illness. There is even a glimpse at the nuances between family members with different religious views, such as Avery’s mother and grandmother. Gensler incorporates all of these relationships and more smoothly, giving the reader plenty of room to think about the themes and ideas on his or her own.
As much as I do like this story, there are areas that are a bit slow and drag. In those areas, I found my attention easily diverting elsewhere, but this slower pacing at times definitely makes the unveiling of the big mystery richer and well worth the wait.
GHOSTLIGHT is a stellar, spooky story perfect for middle grade readers looking for a good Halloween time book. The complex family relationships take the story to a deep level, and the creepiness of the Hilliard House will keep readers highly entertained.