Lindsay Currie’s Peculiar Incident on Shady Street is a great ghost mystery

Peculiar Incident on Shady Street Lindsay CurrieTHE PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET, by Lindsay Currie, Aladdin, Oct. 10, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)

I love fall — the crunch of leaves, the golden light and the publication of spooky stories. But truth be told, a strong spooky story like Lindsay Currie’s The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street is worth reading any time of year.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street stars 12-year-old Tessa Woodward who has just moved from deliciously sunny Florida to cold and dreary Chicago. Tessa doesn’t want to move, a feeling punctuated by a 19-hour drive in a minivan and the arrival at her family’s “new” 19th-century fixer upper.

Tessa’s trying to be positive for her dad, who is more than a little excited about his new position as concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. And Tessa does try, but weird things keep happening, and they’re starting to freak her out.

First, it’s the flickering lights, then it’s blasts of cold air when the windows are all closed, and then mysterious drawings start appearing in Tessa’s notepad. When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes something or someone is after her. But who’s going to believe a 12-year-old girl who thinks her house is haunted?

Luckily for Tessa, her fears don’t throw off new friends. In fact, those fears intrigue them even more. With their help, Tessa just might be able to solve the mystery surrounding her house on Shady Street.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street has a great ambiance to it. It’s a ghost story/mystery with a Wait Till Helen Comes/Nancy Drew feel to it. I love how the house feels every much a character as the people. The creaking floors, crooked painting and dank bathroom bring you straight into the room with Tessa.

There’s a lot to like beyond the mystery and spooky elements. Tessa’s relationships with her parents and friends add dimension. Tessa’s embarrassment over her mom and dad’s parenting style in particular hit all the right notes.

My one problem with The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street is the doll Tessa’s brother carries around. It’s one of those old-fashioned ventriloquist dummies. I’m not sure if young readers would even know what one looks like. Also, I’m having a hard time picturing a toddler lugging one around. Little kids do imprint on some weird stuff, but I struggled with this one.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street is a fast-moving, compelling ghost mystery that middle-graders will love around Halloween (or anytime of the year).

© 2017, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.


About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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