A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
Age Range: 8 - 12 years
First line: "Pram died just before she was born."
Pram Bellamy was "inherited" by her two aunts, Dee and Nan. Together they live at the Halfway to Heaven Home for the Ageing (Pram was the first one to notice it's spelled wrong too), a home where the aunts take care of "elders." Once each September, they are visited by the local schoolmarm, Ms. Appleworth, who ensures that Pram is getting a proper homeschooling. This year, Ms. Appleworth has seen fit to send her to school, an idea that Pram isn't found of. Pram is afraid she will be thought of as strange, because she can see and talks to ghosts. One particular ghost named Felix, who has been her best friend since she was five years-old. On her first day of school, Pram tries very hard to find a spot that will "keep her safe and invisible" and chooses a seat at the back of the classroom. A seat that a boy with the bluest of eyes has already claimed as his own. Eventually, the two become the best of friends as they realize that they both have mothers who have died. Clarence suggests that they go to the Lady Savant in town, a woman who might help them contact the dead. But, Lady Savant has more sinister plans for Pram.
A Curious Tale of the In-Between reminded me of The Graveyard Book, in that there is a death of a parent in the beginning of the book. It also has that sort of creepy eerie atmosphere, that I so enjoy. Although, I wouldn't say the book is over the top scary, it does touch on topics of death, the spirit world, crossing over, hence the creepy eerie atmosphere. Maybe a bit much for a younger reader, but for those who enjoy a creepy story with ghosts, it is a real page turner of a story. I wished I'd have realized that this is the first in a series, because I was reading along swimmingly and then next thing I know, I'm out of pages. Not to say that it ended on a cliffhanger, but some things don't get resolved, at least not yet. I very much enjoyed Pram and her special ability to see and talk to ghosts. You really feel for this girl who always thought that she was somewhere "between alive and dead at the same time." Oh and sweet Felix, who is her protector, confidant, and tries to keep her safe. You can tell how very much he cares for her by his jealousy when Clarence comes into the picture, and his eventual acceptance that Pram also needs a boy who is living too. Clarence was also oh so sweet, I loved how both he and Pram were thinking the same things about each other and the mini sparks that they shared. And Lady Savant, man she was creepy and I would say sinister in how she stole her powers. Overall, I really enjoyed this sweet ghost story. I only wish that Felix wouldn't have went wandering off at the end, but I'm sure there will be more to his story in the next book.
Favorite line " "She knew that the dead hid pieces of themselves in the world. They buried organs in the living. They stuffed memories into trees and clouds and other innocuous things."
A Curious Tale of the In-Between has been nominated for the Cybils award and my review reflects my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Cybils committee.