Thursday, September 16, 2021

What Lives in the Woods

Currie, Lindsay. What Lives in the Woods
September 14th 2021 by Sourcebooks Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss

Ginny isn't thrilled that she has to give up her summer writing camp with her best friend to spend a month in Woodmoor Manor, but since her father's job is to help renovate it, she doesn't have a choice. Her older brother Leo is a little more on board, but will miss playing basketball. The manor is a museum that needs lots of work, although there were previous renovations to bring the utilities up to code, and Ginny's room has a creepy, featureless mannequin in it. Right away, she hears the creepy whispering of her name... although that ends up being Leo playing around with the communication tubes. Every time something occurs, her father blames the old house and its vagaries even though there are local legends about creatures called hitchhikers that inhabit the woods that surrounds the house. Ginny tries to channel her fears into writing a mystery book like her favorite author, Agatha Christie, but is still terrified of the Shadow People who seems to be after her. She has an ally in Will, a local boy who works in the book store in town. He and his brother, Chris, had a terrifying experience there in the ballroom, and the two caution Ginny to be careful. But when mannequins move, typewriters write by themselves, and creatures with bloody red glowing eyes seem to be everywhere, is there any way for Ginny to be safe?
Strengths: As with all of the best mysteries, I can't say a whole lot lest I give away some of the delicious twists and turns. The creep factor on this one is just right for middle grade-- lots of creepy threats, but not a lot of blood and gore. The historical mystery behind the mystery is solid, and Ginny has the help of Leo and Will to solve it. As creeptastically good as this one is, though, what I liked best were the relationships. Leo is a fantastic big brother who alternates between trying to scare Ginny and supporting her. Will is a good friend, but there's also a bit of a crush, and they share a love of reading. The parents are both around and supportive, and the mother's attempts at baking on a catering scale are interesting to see. Currie's Scritch Scratch is solidly set in Chicago, but this summer trip to Saugatauk, Michigan also gives good descriptions of place. 
Weaknesses: In my 25 years in a middle school library, I have never had an Agatha Christie fan, even though I love her work myself. (Although, really, Dorothy Sayers is a bit better!) This is not to say there aren't middle school fans of Christie's work, and maybe this will encourage readers to rescue Murder on the Orient Express from the middle of the Matt Christoper books. 
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and am very glad that I live in a neighborhood with more fields than woods near me! I'm just going to stay out of the woods for a little while...

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