Monday, August 24, 2015

ARC Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between

Title: A Curious Tale of the In-Between
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Source: ARC from Bloomsbury
Pram Bellamy is special—she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

Lauren DeStefano is beloved by critics and readers alike, and her middle grade debut is lyrical, evocative and not to be missed.

My Review

For me to really, really like a middle grade novel, it has to evoke a lot of emotions but it has to be playful enough to entertain even the most reluctant of readers. A well-written middle grade novel should be one that I would feel comfortable sharing with upper elementary (fifth and sixth grade) and middle school students. And if I'm being really honest, a well done middle grade novel, for me, should be one that I'd want to teach, and A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano does all of that and more!

When one starts reading A Curious Tale of the In-Between, one is pulled into Pram's story immediately because Lauren DeStefano has a way with words that is beyond perfection. Pram's story is anything but ordinary, and Lauren's writing style reflects that. It's lyrical and magical. I felt like I was watching the whole book as a movie in my mind because it's so full of imagery.  She makes the reader really feel like an observer to everything going on in the text.

Now... I said that Pram's story is anything but ordinary, didn't I? I'd be lying if I said that this will remind middle grade readers of many of the more popular middle grade books out there. There are a lot of the same themes (friendship and family), but this book also tells an eerily creepy story about ghosts and spirits. Think of it as the perfect Halloween book to buy for the middle grade reader in your family!

The characters in A Curious Tale of the In-Between are the kind of people I wish I could have been friends with when I was eleven years old. Pram, the story's protagonist, is not your average little girl. She's able to see and talk to ghosts, and it scares her aunts. They are worried that the people in their town will pick up on the girl's strange habits and take her away. There's also Felix, a ghost who stays near the pond by Pram's house. She's been friends with him for as long as she's been able to see him. Felix worries about Pram like any human friend would, and I really enjoyed seeing what he brought to the story. Then there's Clarence, who Pram meets on her first day of school. At first she doesn't know what to think of him, but they develop a strong friendship that is utterly heartwarming. And no book would be complete without its villain, right? Lady Savant is characterized as a now, creepy lady, but there's definitely more to her than just that. You'll just have to read to see what Pram discovers about her.

If you haven't already, you need to make sure you add this book to your TBR, especially if you are a fan of creepy middle grade books. This is one book that I'll be keeping to pass along to students (and hopefully, one day, my kids). I would recommend this to younger readers who are fans of Neil Gaiman's Coroline or Alice Hoffman's Nightbird because of the creepily whimsical nature and strong family ties and friendships.

About Lauren DeStefano

Lauren DeStefano is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Internment Chronicles and The Chemical Garden trilogy, which includes Wither, Fever, and Sever. She earned her BA in English with a concentration in creative writing from Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut.
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