Sunday, September 05, 2021

Mine and The Thirteenth Cat

Dawson, Delilah S. Mine
September 7th 2021 by Delacorte
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Lily is not happy that her parents are moving her to move from Colorado to Florida, even though something went on in Colorado that they don't talk about. Florida will be a fresh start, but the house they have bought has been neglected for years, and they must clean out the former owner's possessions. Her father rushes back to work, and her mother has a part time position, so much of the work is left to Lily, who would much rather be on stage. Filling up the dumpster with rotten food, old clothing, and moldy furniture is not fun, but even less fun is the whispers and odd things that keep happening, like writing under Lily's mattress that says "Mine". Lily is happy to see a friendly dog nearby, whom she calls Buddy, and glad to make the acquaintance of Rachel, who lives nearby. It's a relief to be able to describe the bizarre happenings to Rachel, since Lily's parents just assume she is creating drama because she is unhappy about the move, and refuse to believe her that the house is haunted. When the girls find a ouija board, they learn a bit more about the ghost attached to the house, but things also go badly awry. Will Lily be able to figure out the mystery, get rid of the ghost, and finally get settled in her new home. 
Strengths: The cover is fantastic, with a Mary: The Summoning vibe. There is always a need for books about ghosts who mean people harm, and I would certainly be scared of this ghost. The fact that Lily has gotten herself into difficult positions by lying and being a drama queen makes it possible for both of her parents being around, and I very much appreciated that they weren't killed off. It was also good that Lily found a friend in Rachel, even if there were some bumps in that relationship. The details about the abandoned house are gross, which will delight some younger readers. The whole Florida setting is well done, with a Watt Key level of dampness! This will be hugely popular with my students. 
Weaknesses: The problem with being an adult reading books for tweens is that sometimes I have no patience with the characters, since I view the situations from a parental standpoint. Your parents don't want to move, either, honey, and you don't hear them belly aching. Moving into houses that are haunted is a well established trope, but wouldn't it be scarier if the main character LOVED the house and it was haunted? 
What I really think: My Betty Ren Wright books are all in horrible condition and need to be weeded. The recent influx of books like Mine, Ireland's Ophie's Ghosts,  West's Long Lost,  Anderson's Thirteen Witches, and Savage's Karma Moon: Ghost Hunter mean that I can finally get rid of those and offer my readers in search of a spooky book fresher choices.

What are some of YOUR favorite new creepy middle grade books?

Hahn, Mary Downing. The Thirteenth Cat
September 7th 2021 by Clarion Books 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Zoey lives in New York with her very busy mother, so she is glad to visit her Aunt Alice during the summers. Her aunt is a public librarian, and lives in a small town with nearby woods, so there are a lot more interesting things to do. This year, however, Zoey has an unpleasant run in with neighbor Miss Dupree. Miss Dupree has many cats, who wander around and terrorize the neighborhood, and Aunt Alice tells Zoey to steer clear of the woman, since she doesn't like trespassers on her property, and is generally difficult to deal with. When Zoey sees a smaller cat who makes her miss Suki, her cat back home, she decides that the cat (known only as Thirteen) would be better off and takes her. She names the cat Nia, convinces her aunt to let her keep her, and hides her from Miss Dupree, although the woman knows that Zoey has the cat, and threatens her unless she returns it. Zoey also meets a neighbor girl, Lila, who is sure that Miss Dupree is a witch and that the cats are her familiars and spy for her. The girls work together to investigate Miss Dupree's activities. Soon, however, Zleta Delgata the glamorous niece of Miss Dupree approaches Zoey and convinces her to come to the house to talk. Zoey reluctantly agrees, as there is something mesmerizing about Zleta and her perfume. Before she completely understands what is going on, she has been turned into a cat! Her aunt panics, her mother comes from New York while the search is going on, and even though Miss Dupree is interviewed, there's nothing that can be found. When Lila tries to look for her new friend, she is also turned into a cat. Miss Dupree is a witch who has turned girls into cats so that she can make them sew her line of haute couture designs all night long, and believe during the day that they really are cats (complete with eating mice and birds) so that they don't escape. Thirteen remembers a little bit about being a human, but not a lot, so Zoey and Lila know that they must work quickly to trick Miss Dupree into turning them back into girls. Will they be able to convince Zleta to help them before they are condemned to a bizarre twilight life?
Strengths: This is certainly a new and hauntingly bizarre premise for a horror book. 
Weaknesses: There's an awkward turn to this when Zoey and Lila return from being cats, and don't remember a lot of their experiences. If this had been written in the third person rather than first person, it would have been easier to show that transition without seeming odd. I also found it hard to be sympathetic to Zoey. Don't steal animals from neighbors (there's not hard evidence that Nia is being abused; Zoey just doesn't like Miss Dupree), especially if you think they are witches!
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, since I have a huge Hahn following in my library. What a career she has had! I wish that some of her books, like The Old Willis Place, would be reissued, although perhaps it's just as well they aren't. The Puppet's Playback didn't hold up as well as expected. I liked this one better than Guest and Took and not quite as much as The Girl in the Locked Room or One for Sorrow.

The graphic novel version of Took comes out  March 1, 2022. 

Not sure about this. Creepy doll books are bad enough; this could be absolutely terrifying! I'd rather see One for Sorrow in graphic novel format, so students could see the way the world looked in 1918.

No comments:

Post a Comment