Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1286
Spooky, dark mystery
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
When Gretchen receives a phone call saying she’s to inherit an old mansion from a great-aunt, she is more than a little unsure. Her mother’s disappearance years ago made her think she would never hear anything more from that part of her family, but now she is being sent knee deep into the mystery of the disappearance and much, much more. The great-aunt who called her, Esther, turns out to be more than a little eccentric, but when Gretchen starts to see the very ghosts Esther is telling her about, she will uncover a dark history to her family line.

WHAT THE DEAD WANT begins as a spine tingling, haunted mansion mystery, but it soon turns to a dark (and still spine tingling) story about the history of a town going back to the Civil War. In an interesting twist, this story takes place far north in New York and shows that some small towns there were full of as much hate and racism as Confederate states. The atmosphere is excellent, giving a weight to a history that has been silenced for far too long. One of the most powerful aspects of the main character, Gretchen, is how she holds her own ancestry accountable and doesn’t shy away from recognizing their guilt.

While the plot follows a fairly expectant line, the letters and journal entries Gretchen finds from one of her ancestors are absolutely stunning and are interjected in nice places to move the plot along. The only downside is that sometimes the emotion and fierceness in the letters make Gretchen’s emotions pale a little in comparison.

This spooky, dark mystery will leave readers will serious thought on accountability, history, and family ties. Readers who enjoy learning about details of history that are sometimes brushed over for the bigger picture will especially like the focus on the small northern town.
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