CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 16. . . .December 19, 2014
The Swallow: A Ghost Story.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2014.
318 pp., hardcover & epub, $21.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-591-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77049-593-7 (epub).
Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.
Review by Tara Stieglitz.
That’s when I fell. I think I tripped on something, maybe The Ghastly Ghost at My Gate, which I’d forgotten about ever since that first time I heard Rose. I went sprawling and the light swung wildly across the room. I hit the floor with a thump, then I kind of bounced a couple of times. I hurt my head. And my back. And my leg, which twisted underneath me.
The cone of light from the flashlight came to rest, casting a sickly yellow glow into the far corner of the attic. I sat up with a groan, and as I bent to pick up the flashlight, I glanced along the path of light to the corner. The wall was different there. Strips of crisscrossed wood formed an X, framed by a square.
I took the light over to examine it more closely. I ran my fingers over the wood, then pulled.
The square of wall swung towards me. Beyond was darkness.
Polly is from a large, noisy family but she is always feeling like she’s the neglected and ignored one, and, when she’s not being ignored, she’s getting in trouble. She takes refuge exploring the nearby cemetery or by holing up in the attic and immersing herself in ghost stories. Polly wants nothing more than to see a ghost. Rose, on the other hand, is an only child living with her frequently absent parents and the housekeeper. Like Polly, she feels ignored by her parents. Unlike Polly, Rose can see ghosts, and she wants nothing more than to stop seeing them. After Rose’s grandmother dies, her family moves to her grandmother’s old row house, right next to Polly’s house.
Polly and Rose encounter each other while each is in her own attic. Hearing each other through the wall, they both assume the other is a ghost. Polly and Rose quickly become friends and begin to investigate the mysterious ghost that lives in Rose’s house and torments her, a ghost that looks mysteriously like Rose, herself, and seems to have a message for the girls. Along the way, they uncover secrets of Rose’s family and learn the symbolism of the swallow drawings left by the ghost. The Swallow: A Ghost Story is an engrossing tale of family secrets, hidden passageways and hauntings, where much is not what it seems.
This ghost story is pleasantly creepy and satisfyingly mysterious with many surprising twists. It will please fans of supernatural tales and ghost stories.
Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.
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