reviewed by Cara DiCostanzo
When we first meet Lily, she is traveling with her mom and dad to Florida from her home in Colorado. She is moving away from the only home she has ever had, and she is anxious and scared. When they get to the remote Florida home, they are saddened to realize the actual house has been neglected for years.
Not only that, but the previous occupant was a hoarder and there is garbage piled floor to ceiling. The Author, Delilah Dawson, is descriptive with her words; describing a house that is not at all welcoming and reeks of death.
Something has happened in Colorado, an incident she refers to throughout the book but Lily’s parents keep telling her that Florida will be a fresh start, though from the beginning they seem quite dismissive of Lily’s fears. From the first night in her new home, she starts experiencing paranormal activity, which is immediately disparaged by her parents as her over-dramatic behavior. The celestial activity is quite unsettling, even for an adult reading a children’s fiction novel. There is blood that gushes from faucets and laundry rooms filled with spiders and visions of a small child with green eyes. While her father starts work the very next day after they arrive, Lily and her mother get to work on the house, emptying it of garbage and filling the dumpster with bags and bags of questionable items left behind; stuffed animals, stained sheets, and dead snakes among the items thrown away.
Once Lily can venture out of the house and explore, she is happy to meet a dog, who appears to be abandoned by the previous family. As his tag says his name is Buddy, with the address of her house. She also meets Rachel, a young girl that lives nearby. To Lily, Rachel is a confidante for all the strange things happening at the old house. Sadly, the first time Rachel comes to visit, she is pushed down the stairs by Britney, whom they have discovered is the ghost of a young girl who drowned in the lake behind the house. After Rachel falls down the stairs and has to go to the hospital, she no longer answers Lily’s texts and she is on her own once again. Will Lily be able to figure out what Britney wants and help her spirit to move forward?
Mine is an amazing and frightening ghost story, similar to the Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine, which interestingly was banned in some places by parents over eager to protect their kids from all things scary. Once Lily figures it all out and gives Britney what she wanted, there was only peace and understanding. If I was a child reading this, I would need that last chapter for some closure. The setting of the novel, with the steamy humidity of Florida in July, the creepy house full of spiders and roaches and the swampy pool, filled with dirt and algae, really set the scene of horror. Delilah Dawson’s novel is a quick read, enough to scare the little ones (and the older ones!) but bring it all together in the end for a happily ever after.