Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Charis Cotter
Publisher: Tundra Books
Ruth has never visited Newfoundland and is doing so for the first time somewhat against her will. Her father is recently remarried, and Ruth calls her stepmother ‘Awful Gwen.’ Ruth has been sent to stay with family for the summer while her father and Awful Gwen conduct research in South America. From the first night of her stay in her aunt's old house, Ruth begins to experience visions and see ghosts. Her cousin Ruby soon joins her in the guest room, and their resemblance is uncanny. It doesn't take long for the girls to discover that they are not just cousins, but twins, and that they are part of a family curse that is passed from one generation to the next. Each pair of twins has died on the same day and at the same time for 150 years. Ruth and Ruby must find a way to break the curse using Ruth's visions and Ruby's knowledge of local history and family legend.
The mystery of the story is great and well maintained with a nice buildup. Pieces of the story are revealed carefully and with perfect timing, but the problem with a good mystery is that it needs an even better resolution—and the resolution here is a tad weak. Not that it ruins the overall story, but it leaves the reader with a desire for something slightly deeper and more paranormal in the end. Ruth, Ruby, and the entire cast of characters are well developed, believable, and likable. Each character is a great addition to the story and adds a necessary piece to the puzzle that the girls are trying to solve. The location, Newfoundland, adds a folksy rusticity and credibility to the historical and haunted aspects of the story. There is a sound overarching message of the importance of family and the harm that family secrets can produce. This is a book with enough going on between family and history that many readers, even those without a fondness for ghosts, will enjoy reading it.
*Contains mild violence.