The Last Rhee Witch

Disney-Hyperion. May 2024. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781368099073.
Gr 4-7–Ronnie Miller is a Korean American girl who doesn’t feel entirely Korean. She barely remembers the mother she lost as a toddler, and her father, an adoptee of white parents, has little knowledge of Korean culture. She can’t speak Korean, and she doesn’t have any interest in the folklore her best friend Jack is obsessed with. Ronnie is already struggling with how she fits within her community, but things take a turn for the worse when she turns 12. Her confounded father decides Ronnie needs a change and sends her away to summer camp with Jack. Feeling abandoned by her dad and worried about losing Jack to new friends, Ronnie ignores the ghostly figure she sees floating above the trees at Camp Foster. Even after hearing the rumor that camp is haunted by a vengeful gwishin, Ronnie is 99 percent certain that ghosts don’t exist. But that certainty begins to falter as it becomes obvious that something is hunting Ronnie. Could it be that the creatures from Jack’s books are real? As Ronnie tries to solve the secrets of Camp Foster, she finds they are intertwined with her own past and the mother she never knew. Drawing on Korean folklore, the ghost story is suspenseful enough to keep readers engaged, but it’s the exploration of family, friendships, and community that give this debut novel extra weight.
VERDICT Readers will enjoy this spooky middle grade mystery featuring an endearing cast of characters.

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