CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 38. . . . June 1, 2018
Ruth is initially reluctant to spend the summer in Newfoundland as she’d rather be travelling the world, collecting plants with her botanist father. Unfortunately for her, her father has recently remarried and is spending the summer honeymooning with Ruth’s new stepmother. Ruth’s mother died when she was young, and her father never talked much about her mother or her mother’s family, and so this summer is the first time Ruth has met her relatives. When Ruth arrives in Newfoundland and meets her Great Aunt Doll and her cousin Ruby, she is surprised to discover that she and Ruby are nearly exactly the same age and look almost identical.
Ruth has been brought up to believe in science and reason, a perspective that clashes with Ruby’s firm believe in ghosts and fairies. Ruth’s convictions are challenged as she discovers that the scenic hills of Newfoundland and her great-aunt’s old house, with its hidden rooms and secret compartments, are fruitful ground for spiritual happenings. After Ruth experiences sightings that Ruby is convinced are ghosts, the two girls begin to investigate their family history and uncover a family curse that dates back to when their family was in Ireland, before their immigrating to Newfoundland. In every generation, there is a pair of girl twins born, and each pair of twins dies young and dies at the same time. They realise that their own mothers were the latest victims of this curse and that Ruth’s vivid nightmares and nighttime visions might hold the key to what happened in the past and may help them as they set out to end the curse.
The Ghost Road is a delightful ghost story full of mystery and intrigue, with just the right amount of creepiness. Ruth and Ruby are adventurous and engaging characters, and the plot of the novel, while occasionally predicable, contains enough suspense to keep the reader going. The novel does a wonderful job of evoking Newfoundland as a setting, and it incorporates elements of that province’s real history of Irish settlement. The Ghost Road will be enjoyed by any fan of gothic mysteries and merits purchase by school and public libraries.
Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.