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.
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.
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.
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
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.,
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.
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+)
"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
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)