Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Dead Lands – Rick Hautala

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Take a mystery, add a ghost into it, tack on a murder and you have the makings of an excellent book.
Abby is a ghost who lives in a cemetery in the Dead Lands. She’s been dead for over 100 years. She’s not sure why, unlike the many that she helps, she’s been unable to move on.  She sleeps until she hears a mockingbird sing, which signals that someone needs her help.  This time it is Meagan who has shown up.  Abby quickly whisks her into the cemetery.  Why?  Abby’s uncle George Wheeler, who was once a pastor chases Abby along with his Hell Hounds.  He’s determined to get her to come to his side of things. Abby must help Meagan find out who murdered her and help her get justice.  She must do this all without being caught by her uncle.  Abby has a protector who quickly comes to her aid.  She doesn’t know who he is or when he will show up but he does.  There is a second story line that flows through this story.  Jim Burke purchased a locket that used to belong to Abby. Inside the locket is a strand of hair and a key. He was originally going to buy it for his mother because she like it, but decided to keep it because he feels strangely drawn to it. This connection is what allows him to see Abby, something no other living being has been able to accomplish. We are left at the end of the book with Meagan’s mystery solved, but not Abby’s.  This is a great set up for a second book. It can be read as a stand-alone book.

When I went in search of this author who was new to me, I was saddened to learn he had died of a heart attack in 2013.  I love his book and would have gladly read the entire series.  It was so good that it only took me a couple of hours to read it.  Now we will never have the answers to the questions we had at the end of the book about Abby and her uncle.  I will recommend this to all of my students.  It is one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

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