The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe:
This is a ghost story with historical elements and the required romantic angle for teens. Wes, an NYU summer session student and aspiring film maker happens to meet Annie at a séance where a friend is shooting a piece. She’s alluring and other-worldly and while the reader knows right away Annie is long dead, Wes is clueless. That’s okay. Wes is confused enough being in the city, trying to survive, and fulfill his own dreams finally away from his father’s prying eyes. Eventually, Wes is drawn into helping Annie figure out why she is so out of place and out of sync in the real world.
The novel alternates between the present and Annie’s 1825 reality. The two different New York cities stand side by side as Wes and Annie try to determine what happened and why Annie is caught in between. The author masterfully manages the timeline and the flow of the mystery. Annie is not presented as the typical ghost since she has physical existence, but like most ghosts not everyone can see her. There are some funny scenes as Wes and Annie move about a modern city. Adding to the enjoyment of the book are several secondary characters who are interesting and well-developed. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, the author pulls off a surprise ending. All and all, a good book and if you don’t watch out, you might just learn a little history along the way!
Just in time for Halloween, here’s a look at my new cover (fantastic work by Anna Spies at Eerilyfair).
The European adventure is over! I’m going home. New house, new community, and a new book release. Are you ready for a ghost story? I’ll be back in Colorado next week and life starts again!
By Katie Bayerl
This is a complicated story told by the sister left behind after a sudden, natural death. To complicate things, Callie’s sister might have been an honest to goodness saint. The people of the small community of New Avon seem pretty convinced she was and so does Callie’s Mom. But Callie knew Tess, and Tess was no saint. While there is a growing movement to have Tess canonized, Callie and her Mom are trying to cope with the grief of losing Tess in their very different ways. Callie can’t get behind the sainthood thing and starts acting out putting herself at risk.
The story begins after Tess’s death with her diary entries showing how she feels about the visions and signs she sees. Some days she feels connected to the mystery and other days, she doubts and fears for her sanity. When the voices give information that is proven to be correct, Tess takes heart but some parts of what she hears make no sense. This part of the book is particularly well done and believable. As Tess’s fame in the community rises, a little girl goes missing but Tess herself dies before solving the crime. Enter Callie. When the little girl miraculously reappears near a shrine to Tess, Callie takes it upon herself to prove to the community that Tess has nothing to do with any of it. Her sister can’t be a saint!
This is a book that is getting solid five-star reviews and it is well-written. But. It is a book that stays firmly grounded in the material world allowing Callie to retain the memory of Tess as she knew her. By doing this, it strips away mystery and possibility. While the author did not have to confirm Tess’s mystical connection and make her a saint, it could have been hinted at in a number of ways. I’m arguing for the best of both worlds here where Callie’s firm belief in science stands alongside mystery. Instead mystery is gutted at the feet of science. The odd thing is that after reading the author’s notes at the end of the book, I’m wondering if the ending was edited to be more palatable for what’s perceived by a few to be today’s audience. It could have been a five-star book.
Summer is here! School is out, and it won’t be long before the kids are complaining that they’re bored. Books geared to an individual child’s taste can help keep the summer break fun and exciting. I’m happy to share that my book, Elephants Never Forgotten, is listed along with other great summer reads here:
GRAB ONE OF THESE GREAT MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS!