A laugh-out-loud, ghostly Southern mystery that's perfect for fans of Cassie Beasley and Natalie Lloyd. Tennessee Lancaster has a hidden gift. She can pry into folks' memories with just a touch of their belongings. It's something she's always kept hidden -- especially from her big, chaotic family. Their lives are already chock-full of worries about Daddy's job and Mama's blues without Tennie rocking the boat. But when the Lancasters move to the mountains for a fresh start, Tennie's gift does something new. Instead of just memories, her touch releases a ghost with a terrifying message: Trouble is coming. Tennie wants to ignore it. Except her new friend Fox -- scratch that, her only friend, Fox -- is desperate to go ghost hunting deep in the forest. And when Tennie frees even more of the spirits, trouble is exactly what she gets... and it hits close to home. The ghosts will be heard, and now Tennie must choose between keeping secrets or naming an ugly truth that could tear her family apart. Magic and mayhem abound in this spooky story about family legacies, first friendships, and how facing the ghosts inside can sometimes mean stirring up a little bit of ruckus.
A Touch of Ruckus
The author creates an eeriness that slowly takes over the story. The forest feels off. Tennie’s new friend Fox sees ghosts and is clearly hiding feelings. There’s something going on beneath the smooth, gentlemanly persona presented by Mr. Bolton, the man courting Tennie’s grandmother. As the story moves along, ghosts start communicating with Tennie until she can’t take it anymore. It’s time to listen, understand their problem, and put it to rest.
Fox’s character presents another mystery to unravel. The narrator constantly refers to Fox with gender-neutral pronouns, although Tennie called Fox “Ma’am” early in the book. The gender uncertainty creates a uniqueness to Fox and makes the character more endearing. The author offers many clues about Fox’s unknown distress, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when it’s finally revealed.
What could have been improved:
For much of the book, I couldn’t understand the title, because I wouldn’t describe the events as ruckuses. The climax of the story breaks the peace and involves a touch of ruckus, but a different title might better reflect what actually occurred in the book overall.
The climax could be more suspenseful. There are so many clues about the underlying issues and problems that the plot and climax don’t present many surprises. The conflict and antagonist are easily discovered, and the resolution is predictable. It’s satisfying that Tennie is able to resolve everything without the use of supernatural powers. It’s less dramatic but makes sense with everything else going on.
The book is meant to be a ghost story, and it meets that mark with flying colors. The author is able to evoke many emotions ranging from uncomfortable feelings, to fear, to anger, to hope. Many readers will be able to identify with Tennie’s need to keep the peace but will learn the importance of communication. I highly recommend you give this book a shot.