Twelve-year-old Travis and his eleven-year-old sister Corey are going to spend the summer at their grandmother's new country inn in Vermont. They'd be going to summer camp instead, but they were asked not to return after last summer - apparently the camp administrators don't have much of a sense of humor, because they did not think any of the pranks and practical jokes the siblings loved to play were at all funny. Given a choice between summer school and Grandmother's house, it was easy to make a decision. And when they arrive and see the inn with its cozy rooms and swimming pool - and taste the marvelous food - they decide that their summer is definitely looking up.
The first evening they learn that the inn has a history of being haunted - it's even in a book about haunted houses of New England. But their grandmother tells them that since she purchased the place, no ghosts have been seen (not that she believes any ever existed). Some guests are indignant about that and even ask for their money back, and business, frankly, isn't that great. Well, think Travis and Corey, if ghosts will bring Grandmother's inn more business, then the ghosts will show up - what fun! First, Corey decides to dress in a white nightgown and make a ghostly appearance outside in the middle of the night. And inside the inn, it will be easy to make creaking and moaning noises. They can't wait to get started.
At first, their plan appears to be working perfectly. But what they don't count on is that their shenanigans will wake up some real ghosts - and waking them up, they learn, is much easier than laying them back to rest! Research shows that the inn has a dark history, and the two siblings find themselves in a precarious position as they realize that it is up to the two of them to set things straight. After all, who can better understand a bunch of angry, trick-playing ghosts than a couple of dyed-in-the wool pranksters. Yet one of the ghosts is different from the others, and turns out to be a malign force indeed...
I don't know what it is about the summertime that makes me yearn for a good, old-fashioned ghost story - maybe fond memories of all the fun summer reading I did as a child. This one certainly hit the spot. The novel has a timeless quality, even though it is clearly set in the present day, that reminded me of ghost stories from my childhood, and the remote setting with its historic ties to one of the grimmer aspects of American history gave it a nicely creepy feeling. I have long enjoyed Mary Downing Hahn's ghost stories, and this is a great addition to her works.
All the Lovely Bad Ones: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion Books, 2008)
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