[button color=”black” size=”big” link=”http://affiliates.abebooks.com/c/99844/77798/2029?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.abebooks.com%2Fservlet%2FSearchResults%3Fisbn%3D9780449701843″ target=”blank” ]Purchase here[/button] This gothic novel for young readers won the Edgar Allan Poe award and comes from the Newbery-medal-winning author of Diceys Song. Set in the late 1800s, it is the tale of a thirteen-year-old girl, raised by a schoolmistress Aunt (who actually isnt a blood relative) who is hired to spend the summer sorting out the family papers of a cold and forbidding widower named Mr. Thiel at his secluded mansion in the New England countryside.
Jean Wainwright soon learns that there is more going on than a simple matter of straightening out a pile of documents. The housekeeper is a confessed thief and ex-convict. Her employers late wife died under mysterious circumstances. Financial irregularities, questionable conduct during the American Civil War, and a childs disappearance are also part of the mystery. Everyone in the nearby town avoids the family and whispers behind their backs. The only people who will talk to Jean are the local doctors half-wild son, Mac, and a handsome and charismatic neighbor named Mr. Callenderwho happens to be Mr. Thiels brother-in-law.
Of all the mysteries that puzzle Jean, the hatred between Mr. Thiel and Mr. Callender puzzles her the most. Before long, Jean fears that her own life is in danger as she grows closer to the truth of who put Mrs. Thiel out of the way…and why.
I must confess that I had the ending spotted from nearly the start of the book. Perhaps I have just read too many mysteries. Even so, Jeans journey of discovery was thrilling, moving, and enjoyable page after page. Come for the spooky atmosphere; stay for the vibrant characters, the splendor of nature, the humor, the horror, and the transforming moment when all the pieces shift into place and everything appears in a new light.