My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Spooky and filled with an incredibly dark and creepy sense of foreboding, Currie has perfectly filled the middle grade desire for a healthy dose of fear.
Thanks to the author, Net Galley and Kid Lit Exchange for the digital review copy of this book ~ all opinions are my own.
A girl unravels a centuries-old mystery after moving into a haunted house in this deliciously suspenseful mystery.
Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones.
When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. A secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years.
With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her!
Let me start by saying that I do NOT read ghost stories or creepy stories or scary stories of ANY kind in the adult genre. However, as a middle grade kid, all I read was Christopher Pike and RL Stine, so I definitely have a base with which to compare PECULIAR. Currie completely blows that level of creepy out of the water with her debut novel, and today’s middle grade readers are much better off for skill. I can honestly say that I will never look at a ventriloquist dummy the same again after reading this book!
I absolutely love the way the setting almost takes on a life of its own in this novel, with the dark and stormy skies invading my brain space the entire time I was reading about Tess and her quest to solve the mystery of her new house. But aside from the major middle-grade-appropriate-spooky factor, I adored how perfectly Currie captured the heart of a 6th grade girl and her anxiety over moving to a new school and meeting new friends. Tess’ family is delightfully quirky and I fell in love with her parents and their free-range parenting and lack of technology. This little theme was thrown in with just the right amount of humor to keep it from being preachy, but will probably still stick with kids.
Highly recommended purchase for middle grade classrooms and libraries. I would say the sweet spot for this story will be grades 4-6, but it will definitely appeal to some 7th and 8th graders as well. May be a little scary for some 3rd graders.