Henry & Eva and the Castle on the Cliff

illus. by Sonia Kretschmar. 288p. HarperCollins/Harper. Nov. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062560025.
Gr 4–6—After the death of their parents, Henry and his sister Eva, who narrates, must now reside with Uncle "Claude the Clod" and his shallow girlfriend "Terri the Terrible." Strange happenings result in the appearance of ghostly ancestors who reveal that the death of their parents was purposely caused by foul play for financial gains. Eva and Henry are determined to track down the killer. Portes weaves a traditional mystery with a ghostly twist. The chapters are short, with cliff-hanger endings that will encourage page turning. Challenging vocabulary will keep readers on their toes. The Big Sur setting is fully realized and one can almost feel the spray of the ocean from the house on the cliff. The cover doesn't do the book any favors; it features kids who look as if they are from the first half of the previous century and offers no hint of the ghosts within.
VERDICT An entertaining mystery for children who like their chills seasoned with laughs; purchase where not-too-scary tales circulate well.

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