Book Review: Ghostlight by Sonia Gensler

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A creeptastic story filled with heart, Ghostlight by Sonia Gensler is as much about facing our inner demons, as it is about facing ghosts.

ghostlightAvery is looking forward to another summer at Grandma’s farm, at least until her brother says he’s too old for “Kingdom,” the imaginary world they’d spent years creating. Lucky for her, there’s a new kid staying in the cottage down the road: a city boy with a famous dad, Julian’s more than a little full of himself, but he’s also a storyteller like Avery. So when he announces his plan to film a ghost story, Avery is eager to join in.

Unfortunately, Julian wants to film at Hilliard House, a looming, empty mansion that Grandma has absolutely forbidden her to enter. As terrified as Avery is of Grandma’s wrath, the allure of filmmaking is impossible to resist.

As the kids explore the secrets of Hilliard house, eerie things begin to happen, and the “imaginary” dangers in their movie threaten to become very real. Have Avery and Julian awakened a menacing presence? Can they turn back before they go too far?

Let’s start by talking about this book’s creep factor. It’s massive. Though written for middle grade readers, even I found myself getting spooked. So much so, in fact, that at point I had to force myself to stop reading it before bed, because it was creeping me out too much. And then when I did resume reading before bed, I ended up staying up too late to finish it because — again — I was getting creeped out! But the experience was well worth being spooked, because Ghostlight is not only a 100% creepy ghost story, it’s also a story about family, love, and facing your own fears and doubts.

Gensler’s writing is lovely, painting a vivid picture of the farm where Avery spends her summers and the buildings located there — including the creeptastic Hilliard House, but also the cottage where Julian is staying, and the house where Avery’s grandmother lives. Each location comes to life.

And as much as the story is about the mysterious past that lead to Hilliard House’s haunting, Ghostlight is really about the present and the future. It’s about facing inner turmoil and finding a way to move forward; it’s about growing up. It’s about family.

Ghostlight is in stores tomorrow.

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