Ghost Wood Song

HarperTeen. Jul. 2020. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062894229.
Gr 8 Up–Shady Grove is used to ghosts; her childhood home was full of them, since her Daddy’s fiddle could raise them from the grave. But her Daddy died a few years ago, and her mom has since remarried. Shady misses her Daddy terribly, but her world is consumed with her day-to-day activities: Will her bluegrass band win the local open mic night? Will her best friend, Sarah, finally talk about the romantic spark between them? Does Shady really trust the hot young rodeo king who looks at her longingly at school? All of that is quickly pushed aside when Shady’s brother is accused of murder, and the only way to clear his name is to raise the ghost of the person he might have killed. Debut author Waters masterfully weaves together a gothic setting and a vivid, eerie atmosphere, pulling the reader into Shady’s specter-filled world. Music is a central part of this story, and Waters’s lyrical prose reflects the delightfully spooky overture on every page. A fleshed-out romantic triangle between bisexual Shady, her gay best friend, and a young mandolin-playing cowboy adds extra dimension to this thriller. While the creepy atmosphere keeps the reader turning pages, the pacing is a bit jarring, with chapters dedicated to character development before multiple important events happen in rapid succession. Most characters are white and one of Shady’s friends is Cuban American.
VERDICT This gothic queer romance will be enjoyed by fans of Claire Legrand’s Sawkill Girls and Melissa Albert’s The Hazel Wood. Recommend for purchase.

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