Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Replacement

Duga, Lindsey. The Replacement
September 6th 2022 by Scholastic Inc.
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

When Erin's father gets a job that allows him to work remotely, the family move from Chicago to the more rural town of Pemblebrook. While she misses her friends, she's thrilled with the opportunity to be outside more, with her larger room, and especially with the treehouse on the property. It's an older house, so she and her parents do a lot of work on it, and Erin is glad to help by watching her younger sister, Becca, who is five. The treehouse seems a little creepy and cold, and Becca won't go near it. Erin hears some odd sounds at night, and has disturbing dreams in her new room. After she dreams that she and another girl painted the hallway of the house, she comes downstairs to discover her mother very angry about similar defacement that Erin has apparently done with markers! Her mother, a child psychologist, figures that Erin is acting out because of the move, and has her help repaint. There are several other incidents where Erin does things she doesn't remember-- her mother's favorite mug is broken, she lets the kitchen sink overflow, and a window is broken. Increasingly, Erin's dreams take her into an earlier version of the house, and she plays with the two girls who lived there in the 1950s, Patty and Paula. When she is in that world, time passes in the real world, and Erin doesn't remember any of it. Her new neighbor, Tara, is offended that Erin pretends they never met and doesn't return her texts, and Erin confides the scary things that are happening to her. Tara had heard rumors that the treehouse was haunted, but no one has shared what really went on. The girls investigate, and find out that a friend's grandmother is Paula, and that she is in the same senior facility that Tara's great grandmother is in. The girls manage to visit her, and find out that Patty was very ill, and Paula has always felt guilty for leaving her. Armed with this information, the girls try to appease the ghost, but things get especially terrifying when Patty seems intent on taking over Becca's body! Will Erin be able to save her sister and put Patty's ghost to rest?
Strengths: Yes, this is a terrifying ghost mystery along the lines of Brown's The Girl in the Lake or Oh's The Spirit Hunters, with a spirit intent on possessing a child's body. But what did I like best? The fact that Erin was exhibiting destructive behaviors (because of the possession), and she didn't feel like she could tell her parents about what was really going on! That, somehow, was more terrifying than the ghost! I loved the peeks back at Patty and Paula's life in the 1950s, with their dresses and curls and old fashioned television, and when portions of Erin's days went missing, that really sent chills up my spine! Having a new house be haunted is an old middle grade trope, but is given a fresh twist when it is the treehouse that is particularly dangerous. The fact that Erin really likes her new town, makes friends with Tara right away, and is also rather fond of her younger (if somewhat annoying) sister makes this seems much more modern and realistic than the typical unpleasant tween who is angry at having to move. The girls locate Paula in a completely convincing way, and her emotions regarding her long dead sister are touching. 
Weaknesses: At one point, Becca is "munching on" oatmeal. I don't know why this annoyed me so much. I think I would have liked to see the children spend more time in the treehouse, but that is a quibble as well. It was clearly haunted, so staying out of it was a much better plan. I just still want a treehouse for myself!
What I really think: This author's The Haunting and Ghost in the Headlights are never on the shelf, and these covers will look fantastic together. Now, if Scholastic would just start to publish some of their scary stories in hardback. I should probably buy two copies of this one. 
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. I've been hunting for some super spooky reads to top off the next month and hadn't heard of this one, yet. With the added tree house, it's going on my TBR list.