Out of the Wild Night and Denis Ever After

Some spooky reading for late October! Here are two ghost stories from my pre-Cybils and Cybils reading.

Out of the Wild Night by Blue BalliettOut of the Wild Night by Blue Balliett. Scholastic, 2018.
The ghost of Nantucket resident Mary W. Chase finds that she is now the town ghost crier, responsible for telling the news.  And the news is grim. A year after the event, Nantucket is reeling from the death of a boatload of people, including seven children, on a Halloween boat ride.  Their lanterns, though, came back to land still lit…

Mary W. Chase gets us up to speed on life in modern-day Nantucket: workers come from all over the world to help and live on this beautiful island, but many of them can’t afford housing.  This is because rich mainlanders keep buying up the historic houses and gutting them instead of fixing them up.  This destroys the homes of the friendly ghosts who live there.  Soon, ghosts and residents are working together – without any good way to communicate – to try to stop this kind of construction.  But not all ghosts are friendly…

There is a lot of emphasis here on the importance of both diversity and history, especially history as preserved in buildings and their contents, even though there is lots of action with the plot as well.  It felt a little on the preachy side to me, which isn’t ideal, but maybe young readers would enjoy learning more about old houses.  I did like that her love of old houses didn’t extend to any kind of anti-immigration sentiment – she just wants the people living on Nantucket to really make it their home, not just visit.  There was an Exciting Twist to the story that would probably be more exciting to someone who’s read fewer ghost stories than I have.  It wasn’t a perfect book for me, but it was overall quite enjoyable.

Denis Ever After by Tony AbbottDenis Ever After by Tony Abbott. HarperCollins Childrens, 2018.
Deceased Denis lives near his great-grandmother GeeGee in Port Haven, where spirits wait to be purged of their selves so they can move on.  But even though Denis died five years ago, he can’t move on because his twin Matt keeps calling for him.  Even though he has to cross through the painful razor to go back and visit Matt, Denis decides to find out why.  He finds that he’s aged as a ghost because his twin has imagined them growing up together, but that the family is falling apart due to grief and not knowing what caused Denis’s death following a kidnapping.  Denis, Matt, and Matt’s carefully ungendered close friend Trey work together to solve mystery of Denis’s death.  The hunt will put both Matt and Denis’s chances of moving on in danger…

This is a combination of thriller and grief story – neither my thing at all, but I was won over in the end. I was really captivated by the various relationships – especially Denis’s with both Matt and GeeGee, and Matt and Trey.  But I also had to see if Denis was really murdered.  I think there are more thriller readers than sad death story readers out there, so I’m a little disappointed that the cover didn’t highlight this aspect.  Still, with real thoughts on grief recovery and a plot that gets darker than many for this age, this would be a great book to give to young fans of either genre.

There are several more ghost stories nominated for the Cybils in my category this year, including Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart, Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Uss (not a spooky story overall, I should note), City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, and Festival of Ghosts by William Alexander.

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About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
This entry was posted in Books, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Print and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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