The Back Door of Midnight (Dark Secrets Series #5)

( 122 )

Overview

Psychic...or psychotic?

Anna knows her family is crazy. But when she goes to visit her aunt and uncle for the summer and learns that her uncle?s charred body has been found, her life reaches a new level of insanity. Her erratic aunt?s ?psychic? abilities are exaggerated by her grief, and have become borderline violent. Alone in an unfamiliar town, Anna struggles to pick up the pieces and establish any sense of normalcy. She desperately wants to trust Zack, the cute boy next ...

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Overview

Psychic...or psychotic?

Anna knows her family is crazy. But when she goes to visit her aunt and uncle for the summer and learns that her uncle’s charred body has been found, her life reaches a new level of insanity. Her erratic aunt’s “psychic” abilities are exaggerated by her grief, and have become borderline violent. Alone in an unfamiliar town, Anna struggles to pick up the pieces and establish any sense of normalcy. She desperately wants to trust Zack, the cute boy next door, but even he might know more about the incident than he is letting on.

But when Anna starts feeling an inexplicable pull to the site of her uncle’s murder, she begins to believe that her family’s supernatural gifts are real after all. Torn between loyalty and suspicion, Anna is certain of only one thing: she must discover who killed her uncle or she could be next….

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Chandler does a fantastic job of keeping readers on edge and creating a suspenseful mood and tone. This is an excellent stand-alone book that is sure to be popular."
- SLJ January 2011

"This book is a classic teen mystery/romance that may appeal to teens who were enthralled with the Twilight series. It is fast-paced, humorous, and light yet deals with some serious issues. Searching for your roots, dealing with dementia and mental illness, and finding independence are all touched upon in this third volume of the Dark Secrets series. The book is great for a short winter escape, or a long plane ride. It is a quick read with just enough suspense to keep you reading to solve the mystery. The characters are superficial but the storyline moves and is very timely. It is not the type of book you would write an English essay about, but it is great for a quick escape."—VOYA

VOYA - Ellen Frank
Anna returns to her childhood home to spend her summer with her uncle in Wisteria, Maryland, and to sort out the mystery of her life. When she arrives, she discovers her uncle is mysteriously murdered and her eccentric aunt may require more care than Anna can give. Anna's birth mother was a psychic and Anna wonders if she shares these talents. She meets the cute boy next door, Zack, and romance almost begins to bloom, but Anna's psychic abilities are beginning to get in her way. She has many mysteries to unravel and romance and murder do not make good companions. Who is responsible for her uncle's murder? Will she be next? Should she just return to Baltimore and give up on her aunt? This book is a classic teen mystery/romance that may appeal to teens who were enthralled with the Twilight series. It is fast-paced, humorous, and light yet deals with some serious issues. Searching for your roots, dealing with dementia and mental illness, and finding independence are all touched upon in this third volume of the Dark Secrets series. The book is great for a short winter escape, or a long plane ride. It is a quick read with just enough suspense to keep you reading to solve the mystery. The characters are superficial but the storyline moves and is very timely. It is not the type of book you would write an English essay about, but it is great for a quick escape. Reviewer: Ellen Frank
Children's Literature - Cara Chancellor
Days before embarking on a visit to an aunt and uncle she has not seen in years, Anna is pulled into a nightmare of raging fire, dark trees, and her uncle's voice telling her to "be careful." Nerves, Anna thinks, until she arrives in small-town Wisteria and learns Uncle Will's body has just been found in the woods...in the trunk of a burning car. Anna is left to spend the summer with her Aunt Iris—who is widely regarded as psychic, psychotic, or some mixture of the two—and to try to piece together the circumstances of her uncle's murder. In a town so small that everyone knows everything but no one talks, Anna is unsure who to trust. Zack, the beautiful boy next door? Elliot Gill, the man who was rejected by Anna's birth mother before she, too, died mysteriously? Or Aunt Iris, who may have all the answers among the voices in her head? The closer Anna gets to the truth, the more she realizes she must indeed "be careful," not only of whoever murdered her uncle, but also of her own developing psychic abilities. Perhaps the greatest compliment one could pay to Chandler's Anna is that she and her progressive ability are both intriguing and realistic. Anna is far from a psychic prodigy, and in fact she relies on her own intuition and detective work more often than visions. All the while, Chandler draws the reader ever further into the strange, dark world of Wisteria, until he/she is almost as trapped by ghosts from the past as Aunt Iris is inside her own mind. This is a difficult book to put down, and one that will leave the reader guessing right up until its electrifying conclusion. Reviewer: Cara Chancellor
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—When Anna O'Neill Kirkpatrick receives an invitation from her great-uncle Will asking her to visit him and her great-aunt Iris as soon as possible, she goes willingly. She had lived with them as a child after her mother was killed in a robbery, but was then put in foster care and later adopted by her loving foster mother. When she arrives, she finds that her uncle was killed in a fire, that the perpetrator has not been caught, and that her aunt is either senile or crazy. Anna sets out on her own to investigate the murder and discovers her family history in the process. She soon learns that some family secrets are to die for. Chandler does a fantastic job of keeping readers on edge and creating a suspenseful mood and tone. This is an excellent stand-alone book that is sure to be popular.—Sherry Rampey, Gaston Branch Library, SC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442406261
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 11/16/2010
  • Series: Dark Secrets Series , #5
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 299
  • Sales rank: 292,090
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Chandler is a pseudonym for Mary Claire Helldorfer. She is the author of the Kissed by an Angel and Dark Secrets series. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Read an Excerpt

one

IT BEGAN AFTER midnight with a low hum, an electric buzz like that of a bass guitar string. The sound grew louder and I tried to cover my head with a pillow, but my arms, heavy with sleep, wouldn’t move.

I struggled to sit up; I was paralyzed. Frightened, I tried to call out, but my mouth wouldn’t move. An odd sensation began in my feet and traveled up my body, each nerve ending tingling with electric energy. Stop! I thought. Please stop!

Anna. Let go.

It was a woman’s voice that spoke to me, a familiar voice, but I didn’t know where or when I had heard it. Years ago, I thought. Struggling to recall the person, I momentarily forgot my fear.

The vibrations stopped, and I stood up. I was surrounded by darkness. In the distance an orange light shone. As I moved toward it, I heard a confusion of voices, people talking and laughing. The orange light flickered, and I heard crackling sounds. I could smell now—acrid smoke. I was at a fire.

An object whistled close to my ears and exploded, glass against metal. A siren wailed. I heard feet—heard, rather than saw clearly, people running, panicking. I panicked too. I didn’t know who these people were or which way to turn, but instinct told me to get away from there. Then I heard someone else calling my name, a man this time. My uncle was calling to me from the fire.

Anna, be careful.

There were more sirens, the wailing growing closer.

Anna, be careful.

Uncle Will? I answered, moving in the direction of his voice.

The fire surrounded me. I could see the flames like clothing on me, yet I felt no pain, no burning. I reached out my hand, then pulled it back in horror. I had seen through it. I slowly put out my left hand, then my right: They were transparent. Was I dead? Was it possible to die and not know it?

Help! I called out. Help! Uncle Will! I want to go home.

I was plucked out of the ghostly fire, reeled in like a fish. Opening my eyes, I found myself in bed at home. The two beds next to mine were empty.

“Grace? Claire?”

Silence.

Then I saw my suitcase and remembered: The twins, Jack, and Mom had left early that morning. I was alone. Next to my suitcase was a plastic bag filled with summer clothes, enough for two months away. I had been dreaming—obviously—and yet I would have sworn that I had actually heard Uncle Will’s voice. A letter from him lay on top of my suitcase.

I knew the letter by heart, but I climbed out of bed and carried it to the window, pushing back the curtain, unfolding the paper to read by the orange light of a streetlamp.

May 23

Dear Anna,

Would you visit us this summer? The sooner the
better. Aunt Iris is doing poorly, and there are
things I must tell you about your mother and our
family. I want to do so while I am still
clear-minded.

Uncle Will

My uncle’s invitation had come as a surprise. Eighteen years ago, he and his sister, Iris, both single, had taken in my birth mother, who was pregnant with me. Joanna died in a violent robbery when I was three, and I continued to live with my great-aunt and great-uncle for two more years, before I was adopted by Kathryn, the only person I think of as “Mom.”

Since then, Great-Uncle Will had stayed in touch with me by traveling to Baltimore once a year. He didn’t like cities, but liked communicating by telephone and computer even less. I loved him and he loved me; still our conversations were awkward.

I never heard from Great-Aunt Iris. When I was older it was explained to me that she was not the most stable person in the world—apparently she heard voices and claimed to be psychic. Until now I had never been asked back to the O’Neill home on Maryland’s Eastrn Shore—perhaps to protect me from bad memories of my birth mother’s death.

The truth was, I remembered Joanna only through her photos. My family was Jack, age seven; Grace and Claire, six; and our dog, Rose—all of us adopted by Mom, living in a skinny brick town house.

There were lots of days I had dreamed of escaping our crowded home; now, having achieved a college scholarship that would allow me to do that, I was getting sentimental over sticky hugs, dog hair, even the sharp little Barbie shoes and Matchbox cars left in my bed. I wanted to spend the summer with my family, but I felt I owed it to Uncle Will, and maybe to Aunt Iris, to visit.

Besides, I was curious. With my brain crammed full of chemistry and calculus, world history and lit, maybe it was time to learn something never asked on the SATs: who I was.

© 2010 Mary Claire Helldorfer

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 122 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(81)

4 Star

(23)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(6)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 123 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 10, 2010

    One of the best books I have ever read! Everyone needs to read it!

    This book was sooooooo good that it gave me the chills. It is a very great mystery but also a little romance involved. The perfect combination. You should go ahead and check it out now. This book inspired me to get more books from this author. Great author. But seriously it is so good that i literally laid on my bedroom floor reading it for hours!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    Weres number 3 and 4????

    Wheres number 3 and 4??????

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    Awesome!

    If unlike any of the dark secrets series, youll luv this one.... definitely a must read.

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  • Posted March 15, 2012

    Loved it :)

    Loved it :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2012

    Very Suspenseful!

    I loved this book. It had me on my toes till the very end. My fave character was Anna and Zach. I love their interactions with each other. I wish Elizabeth Chandler would write another book to this one. She is an amazing author and I love all her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2011

    Loved!

    Great read!

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  • Posted December 1, 2011

    Review at midnight

    Introduction
    This book, The Back Door of Midnight, is a very heartfelt and mysterious story. Anna gets a letter from her uncle asking if she¿d come up to his house for the summer. When she gets there she has found out a horrible tragedy has happened and is sad and so very confused at the same time. With the help of a new ¿friend¿ Zack she answers the unsolved mystery not even police knew.
    Description and summary of main points
    This story is about a girl named Anna who gets a letter from her uncle saying he¿d like for her to come spend the summer with him and her aunt. The man and were not married but related by blood. When Anna arrives she had not been confronted about the tragedy, along with any of her family. In her distraught time she meets a boy who helps her out very much and he also, helps her solve this mystery even the police couldn¿t figure out.
    Evaluation
    When they find out what happen it¿s a shock to all. But this book shows how they handle it and how most everyone should handle it. Especially without any notice of what is going on and not knowing what to suspect.
    Conclusion
    This novel is very suspenseful and scary. While not knowing what is going to happen you also can¿t put the book down.
    Your final review
    This book was fantastic! I suggest all people to read it for sure! It¿s almost 400 pages so I suggest it only for probably 7th-9th grade. It¿s definitely a must read for all people!

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Not the best mystery

    This book was slightly disappointing for me. (if yu want to cut to the chase, please skip to the end of this review..) It took a long time to start the book- it feel like the author recorded every single second of her life rather than just the interesting bits of it. It felt like the book didn't really start until the very end, like the beginning and middle of the book were just advertisements before the movie. I lost intrest in the first hundred pages.. It was like the same day repeating over and over again! I think the author could have led on more clues to the murder. I was also a bit confused at times-I felt the dialogue was not always clear. I think that the ending was very good though, but I was not interested in this book until then. I like that it had a touch of romance.. But however, the romance was very cliche. Of course she got the perfect guy who has a good personality and is talented. Naturally, he has brown hair and "stunning" blue eyes. And of course he's rich. I thought the romance was cute, but it wasn't surprising at all.

    I do not recommend this book at all if you are an avid mystery reader like me, and have read amazing mystery books, like And Then there were None by Agatha Christie or like mind-blowing books like Harry potter. I thought this book was sorta boring, and had an undeveloped, cliched mystery story and love line. I'm sorry for such a negative review! :(

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great book!

    I really do love these books. There is always so much going on with the way Ms. Chandler writes, that is just keeps you entertain and hooked. The reader is first introduce to Anna who comes along after her uncle's death to help her aunt. Anna, is the type of girl who when a tragic incident strikes she will drop everything and help you. I adored her willingness and strength to help put her aunt.


    What I like most about this book or rather this series, is how the past comes back to haunt them. I like how well Ms. Chandler uses a past incident that still haunts them today. Either it be accidental death, revenge, or just plain ol' jealousy, I love that it is the base of this series. Ms. Chandler connects the past with the future generation that a secret that they must solve in order for the family to be a peace.


    The love interest in this book has me angry. Zack at first was a real jerk. I am glad that Anna called him out on it and made him look like a fool. I like that Zack even though was wrong, he fought for Anna. He decided to find out what the real truth was and did his own investigation. After he did that, I decided that he wasn't as bad as he seems. Though he did put on being jerk real good.


    The Dark secrets series has once again captured me. I love reading this series for it never lets me down!

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    Grrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!,!,!!!!

    I want to read this book sooooooo badly but my parents wont get it vfor ME grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...................

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    great book

    i couldnt put this book down. i loved it!

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  • Posted March 31, 2011

    BORING!!!!!!!!

    ok so i was looking to buy a book and i read the first 100 pages and i was SO BORED through the WHOLE THING. i will stick to books about dogs and pitbulls. every time i hear this book i say LAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    Courtesy of Readergirl Reviews a Teen Book

    This is the kind of story I really like. It had such an awesome mixture of paranormal, mystery, suspense, and romance in it. It held my attention from the very first page. I've always been a fan of Elizabeth Chandler's Dark Secrets stories, and this was a great addition to the list.

    Anna was one of my favorite characters of Chandler's so far. She was so smart and resourceful. She's on her own throughout the story, and when she arrives at her aunt and uncle's house, she really just takes charge and starts investigating the murder. Her ability to logic her way through the clues and find herself pretty close to the answer was awesome! I love to see a smart teenage heroine like this.

    I really loved Zach as well. He was such a mystery at first. Is he on her side? Is he hiding something? These questions gave him a really interesting dark side that we had to work our way through. But I loved the romance between these two.

    I wasn't really expecting the murderer to be who it turned out to be. So that was a nice surprise, that the author was able to keep us guessing, but at the same time, I could easily look back through the story and recognize clues where Chandler had dropped us some hints along the way.

    This was a great suspenseful story, and I really enjoyed it. I'm hoping that Chandler will be coming out with some more Dark Secrets stories in future. I highly recommend this one.

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  • Posted March 7, 2011

    amazing

    this book was both mistery with a hint of romance. it was the perfect combination and it also had a surprising and wonderful ending. a must read!

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  • Posted February 23, 2011

    Read this!!!

    Elizabeth Chandler captures you interest in the beginning with the main character, Anna trying to piece together what exactly happened. As she begins to discover things the story twists and turns even more. Its a page turning thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2011

    amazing

    I loved it, it was amazing. could not put the book down

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  • Posted January 8, 2011

    Not The Best Of Her Book

    Slow start, in fact, it fel like the book had jus begun towards the end. he ending was satisfying enough that im glad i read it but its ust a dissapointment compared to Chandlers other amazing stuff. Overall, decently good.

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  • Posted January 1, 2011

    Yep, It's Awesome!

    I have never read anything else by Elizabeth Chandler, so I had nothing to really go on in terms of the authors writing, but I was happily surprised when this book sucked me in! It is definitely a mystery as Anna, an adopted seventeen year old, drives to Wisteria where she is supposed to meet her Uncle Will as he wants to tell her something important about her real family. Once she arrives at the O'Neil house she finds her crazy Aunt Iris the only one in residence. It seems that her Uncle was murdered just a little while before Anna made her trip to see him. But was it a juvenile prank gone wrong by the local popular teens, or was it the work of someone far more sinister? Anna knows there is no way she can go home right then until she figures out what happened to her Uncle, what to do with Aunt Iris, what secrets is the cute boy next door hiding, what was it that her Uncle wanted to talk to her about, and what is up with these crazy visions she's been having?! The Back Door of Midnight was such a good read with all the right elements, and I'll definitely be reading more works by this author!

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  • Posted December 31, 2010

    stupid nooks

    i bought tnis book and i didnt even get to read it it just went away i hate the nooks

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

    Awesome Book

    Great Book lots of suspense a little confusing though

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 123 Customer Reviews

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