It’s a rainy Halloween as I’m posting this, the perfect time to curl up with a mug of pumpkin hot chocolate or hot mulled cider to read this creepy-cozy story of supernatural happenings around Samhain.
by Kalyn Josephson
Read from a library copy. Available from Libby as an ebook and audiobook.
13-year-old Anna, who is white, is lucky enough to live in a beautiful old inn that welcomes both magical and non-magical folks. She’s also unlucky enough to have a new magical power that seems much less useful than those of her older sisters, mother, and grandmother: she can see visions of any death a person has witnessed when she touches them. When she bumps into someone at a party and sees a murder being committed, she’s horrified, worried that this is a recent crime that needs solving. And when a boy her age who was in her vision shows up at the inn spattered with blood, she takes him under her wing. Colin, also white, doesn’t know anything of the magical world, but also wants to find out who murdered his parents, and what might have happened to the older brother who reminded him that this inn was their family safe place.
The murder here is grim, and turns out to be one of a string, the mystery linked to ancient Irish mythology. But this heaviness is balanced out by the wonder of the magical inn on the border between worlds, a house with a mind of its own, a Jabberwocky named Max who likes to appear as a mischievous black cat, and a beautiful fall setting with lots and lots of delicious oatmeal butterscotch muffins and pumpkin hot chocolate. As Anna and Colin grow to be friends, they also both find a welcome sense of belonging. The resolution is particularly satisfying , a refreshing change from the more typical smash/slash/imprison the bad guy. It’s a perfect blend for middle grade readers who want some real danger with a whole lot of magic and comfort.