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The Presence: A Ghost Story

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A brutal car accident that claimed the life of her best friend has left seventeen-year-old Catherine in a state of shock and severe depression. She longs to move forward with her life, but feels she can't until she is somehow assured of her friend's forgiveness. On a Christmas visit to her grandmother in Pasadena, a mysterious and handsome stranger approaches Catherine at church claiming that he can put her in touch with her dead friend.
Catherine is wary of the stranger's ...
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The Presence: A Ghost Story

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Overview

A brutal car accident that claimed the life of her best friend has left seventeen-year-old Catherine in a state of shock and severe depression. She longs to move forward with her life, but feels she can't until she is somehow assured of her friend's forgiveness. On a Christmas visit to her grandmother in Pasadena, a mysterious and handsome stranger approaches Catherine at church claiming that he can put her in touch with her dead friend.
Catherine is wary of the stranger's claims and his ghostly appearance but feels he may be the only key to escaping her past. She tells no one of the meeting but is approached by an elderly woman who warns her of the stranger's powers. The woman's teenage diary and eerie rumors surrounding other troubled girls who have disappeared from the church community leave Catherine fearful of the stranger's true intentions. She realizes she must find some way to confront this supernatural presence as well as the ghosts of her past.
A classic ghost story from one of Clarion's most distinguished authors. Eve Bunting brings a new edge to the genre of suspense by interweaving contemporary issues with sharp and frightful storytelling.

While visiting her grandmother in California, seventeen-year-old Catherine comes in contact with a mysterious stranger who says he can help her contact a friend who died in a car crash for which Catherine feels responsible.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As Bunting's (Spying on Miss Muller) supernatural novel opens, the ghost of a 17-year-old who died 120 years earlier stands on the stairs of a California church, waiting for 17-year-old Catherine, who is spending Christmas with her grandmother while her parents travel in Europe. Noah, who now identifies himself as "The Presence," appears to be searching for a soul mate and believes Catherine is "the one." Grappling with grief and guilt over the death of her friend Kirsty (killed in a late-night car accident as the two were driving home from a party), Catherine is shocked and intrigued when Noah tells her that he has communicated with Kirsty and can arrange to have her talk to Kirsty as well. Through Catherine's and Noah's alternating narratives, the author reveals-in carefully measured doses-details of his nefarious past as well as of the accident that claimed Kirsty's life. Occasionally chilling passages describe the ghost's former exploits with other young women, most of whom have disappeared. But one intended victim, who escaped his clutches and is now quite elderly, shares her old diary with Catherine, enabling her to thwart The Presence's plans for her. Though the heroine's survival is never in question, crisp writing and questions that remain unanswered till tale's end will likely keep fans of ghost stories engaged. Ages 11-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Haunted by a tragic accident that took the life of her friend, Catherine goes to California to spend Christmas with her grandmother. Shortly after arriving, she meets a handsome stranger at her grandmother's church. He offers her a chance to talk to her dead friend and find forgiveness. Stories of girls who have disappeared in the area and warnings from an elderly woman to stay away from the church make Catherine wonder who or what this stranger really is. Catherine tries to deal with this mystery while coping with her own inner torments and a neighbor boy who likes her. In the end, she is given a mysterious diary that leads her back to the church where she must confront the Presence, who will stop at nothing to have her with him forever. Bunting's ghost story is told in alternating points of view from Catherine's first person to the Presence's third person. She uses this style to slowly build up clues and suspense in the tale, but the slow pace weakens an otherwise well-thought-out mystery. Although the book is relatively short, the pace will hamper reluctant readers. Nevertheless the mysterious beginning, the excitement at the end, and the additional element of romance will help this book find readers among fans, especially girls, of ghost stories. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Clarion, 208p., $15. Ages 11 to 18.
—Leslie McCombs
From The Critics
Catherine flies to California to spend Christmas with her grandmother, while her parents are in Europe. Her grandmother takes her to church, where the grandmother volunteers. The ancient church, with stained glass windows, feels cold, although the day is warm. As Catherine explores the gallery, someone calls her name. After they leave the church, a former church member, Lottie Lovelace, tells Catherine to run away from the church. When Catherine visits Miss Lovelace's home, there is a picture that looks like Catherine in the entryway. Later, another member mistakes Catherine for her missing daughter. Intrigued by the coincidences, Catherine is determined to find out the mystery of the church. Before you book talk The Presence, purchase several copies. Middle school students will love this ghost story. 2003, Clarion Books, 195 pp., Ages young adult.
—Ruth Prescott
Children's Literature
The church patrons can feel his presence, but only people he chooses can see and hear him. Sixteen-year-old Catherine is smitten by his appearance and entranced by his promise of communicating with the dead. He wants to charm her and take her into the basement of the church where he has lured other beautiful women. In 1881, he killed his girlfriend when she struggled with his embraces. The deacon caught him and smashed his head with a candlestick leaving him to haunt the church for the past 120 years. Several girls mysteriously disappeared in that time. Catherine has been wracked with guilt after convincing her friend from Scotland, Kristy, to drive, although she had drank two beers and was unfamiliar with driving on the right side of the road. There was an accident that left Kristy dead and Catherine with multiple injuries. The promise of talking to Kristy and asking for her forgiveness keeps Catherine from mentioning the strange boy and she meets with him clandestinely. Will she realize that she is in danger before it is too late? Can she find a way to expose him without people thinking she is still crazy from the accident? Can she stop herself from a fateful meeting and prevent him from trapping more innocent victims? The story is gripping and readers will be cheering for the heroine to succeed. 2003, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Company, Ages 14 to 18.
—Janet L. Rose
KLIATT
A handsome ghost, lurking about in a lovely California church, waits to claim his next beautiful lover; there have been a series of them over the century he has been dead. These young women, his victims, never quite love him enough, so they must die too. Catherine, age 17, comes to Pasadena to visit her grandmother, just as she is recovering from her grief at the death of her friend in a car accident. It's only at the church that Noah (the ghost) can change into his old body and reveal himself to Catherine; he has to be persuasive to convince her to meet him alone there during hours no one else is about. She sees an attractive young man who claims to know something about her dead friend. Only the warning of an elderly woman, who once too was wooed by Noah at the church, saves her from death. This is a good selection for YAs who like ghost stories; it's a quick read and satisfyingly spooky. KLIATT Codes: JS; Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Houghton Mifflin, Clarion, 195p.,
— Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Seventeen-year-old Catherine, seriously depressed after a tragic accident in which she was injured and her closest friend died, is visiting her grandmother in Pasadena, CA. She is hopeful that the peace of Grandma's beloved St. Matthew's Church will help rest her tortured mind, but they are both unaware that an evil presence lives in the basement of the church-one of the undead who intends to claim Catherine as his own. Although the teen is intrigued and hopeful that the handsome stranger who appears only to her really can help her channel the dead, she is repulsed by the coldness of the air surrounding him and his icy touch. Warning bells in her mind intensify as an elderly woman warns her to stay away and she learns that a number of girls have disappeared from town over the years, and they all looked very much like her. Is this ghostly stranger real, or is Catherine having a complete nervous breakdown? Bunting, long a favorite of teen thrill seekers, has produced another winner in this well-written story of acute loneliness, alienation, romance, the occult, hope, and tragedy. Fans of the genre will surely pass it from friend to friend, and it's a natural for reluctant readers.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Emotional depth resonates as 17-year-old Catherine fights off two kinds of haunting. Wracked with guilt and nightmares over a car accident that killed her best friend, Catherine goes to visit her warm and sparkly grandmother in Pasadena for a change of scene; however, in her grandmother’s church, she’s confronted by a dazzling, eerie man who’s a ghost from the 19th century. Half the narration is in his disturbed, stalker-like voice, so readers know his horrifying murderous history long before Catherine does, but suspense remains about the outcome. Bunting’s tight and compelling writing gives relentless emotional pain (a form of haunting indeed) as much play as physical danger. New friend/romance Collin, the minister’s son, provides Catherine with fleeting bits of joy and a feeling of solidity from his realness. She is not free of burden by the end, but there is hope. Memorable. (Fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher

"a chilling little ghost story, handily turned by a veteran writer" BOOKLIST Booklist, ALA

"Emotional depth resonates...Bunting's tight and compelling writing gives relentless emotional pain...as much play as physical danger. Memorable." KIRKUS REVIEWS Kirkus Reviews

"gothically romantic flavor...readers will...find pleasure in the traditional ghost-story ingredients as Bunting puts them through their satisfying paces." THE BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"chilling passages...crisp writing and questions that remain unanswered till tale's end will likely keep fans of ghost stories engaged." PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Publishers Weekly

"mysterious beginnning...excitement...
and...element of romance will help this book find readers among fans, especially girls, of ghost stories." VOYA (VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES) VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618269198
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/22/2003
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 550L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

EVE BUNTING has written over two hundred books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning Smoky Night, illustrated by David Diaz, The Wall, Fly Away Home, and Train to Somewhere. She lives in Southern California.

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2005

    An unexpected great!

    I loved this book! the characters are fun, the plot is interesting and the ending is very unexpected. I loved this book and totally recommend others to read this!!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    The Presence by Eve Bunting

    Just finished reading it! What a wonderful book. Very suspenseful and I loved the ending. I wish there was a sequel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2011

    This is an amazig book.

    This is a really good book. I was in 5th grade when I read it and I'm now in 8th grade and I still remember every detail about it. That's how good of a book it is. I highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2006

    I WAS HOOKED!!!

    I LOVED this book!! It keeps you hanging till the very end of the book. It's well planned and well thought out. Some parts are creepy but that just adds to the suspence! A must read for people that love thrilling suspence books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2005

    The Dead Shall Stalk

    I loved this book. It was creepy and I could almost feel the characters fear. It would be so weird to find out that you were being stalked by a dead boy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2012

    Great easy read

    Wonderful easy book it was suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat i couodnt stop reading it! I would recomend it to any one looking for a guick easy read

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    Posted December 17, 2010

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    Posted October 5, 2011

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    Posted March 6, 2009

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