The Haunting on Devil's Den Road
Ghost Girls Book One
by Karen Chilton
Illustrated by Gary McCluskey
Snug Harbor Press
Copyright © 2008
(Karen Chilton is an AuthorsDen author)
I happened to run across this book last year at the Orange County Kids Book Festival. As a girl, I loved ghost stories, and the premise for the book intrigued me, and I knew I had to give it a read. Somehow I missed the vampire reference on the back cover and while I love ghost stories, I'm much less happy about reading a vampire tale. But I still gave it a whirl and I'm glad I did.
Paige Parker is thirteen years old and striving to deal with major changes in her life; the death of her father, a move from her childhood home, and dealing with a mother who is coming apart at the seams. The home they move into is a wreck in Paige's eyes, and there is no way it will become a home. And worst yet, she ends up having a ghost in her room. Not that she knows it's a ghost from the start. She just knows there are some awfully strange happenings around Heather Hollows.
Now, standing in vampire country, Paige shivered. She rubbed her arms and looked up at the house, its windows now glowing warmly in the early evening.
It was the movement of the curtains in her bedroom that first caught her eye.
There was a flutter of fabric, and then, when she looked up, a silhouette there in the window. Paige wondered what her mother was doing in her room.
The hand that gripped her shoulder made her heart leap.
Paige whirled around.
"Mom!" she cried, confused as she faced her.
The next morning, after a particularly bad nightmare, Paige decides to put her room in order, but first wants to grab a bite to eat. She puts her iPod on shuffle and Sarah McLachlan fills the room. Next up is a song by Modest Mouse, but as Paige starts her breakfast, the song changes...back to the Sarah McLachlan song which just finished. Figuring the issue is with the iPod, Paige checks it upon return to her room, selects a Coldplay song and again, mid-song, the iPod changes back to Sarah McLachlan. Either her iPod is possessed or there is a ghost with a penchant for Sarah McLachlan -- living in her room!!!
Paige's best friend, Amelia, comes for a visit and the two girls start to uncover the secret of the ghost in the house, and discover the hounds of hell are loose and hunting Paige as well. Paige begins to wonder not only whether she will figure out what is going on, but whether she'll survive long enough to do so.
Karen Chilton pens an exciting tale weaving the current world of Paige Parker with the past world of Patience Hazard, the ghost. The plot twists should keep the target middle grade audience turning the pages from start to finish. As an adult reading the tale, I did find a few minor inconsistencies which broke me out of my suspension of disbelief. For example, Mercy Brown, the historic vampire of the piece, was said to have been dug up and her heart cut out to stop her from taking more victims. At the time the coffin was opened, the rumors said her hair and nails had grown, and yet at the same time, there were marks on the coffin lid as evidence of her getting out. As a child reading the book, I may have missed the significance of that, as an adult, I did not.
Overall, The Haunting on Devil's Den Road is an entrancing read, and perfect for its intended audience.
Originially reviewed for the LL Book Review