A girl unravels a centuries-old mystery after moving into a haunted house in this deliciously suspenseful read that Kirkus Reviews calls “just the ticket for a cold autumn night.”
Tessa Woodward isn’t exactly thrilled to move to rainy, cold Chicago from her home in sunny Florida. But homesickness turns to icy fear when unexplainable things start happening in her new house. Things like flickering lights, mysterious drawings appearing out of nowhere, and a crackling noise she can feel in her bones.
When her little brother’s doll starts crying real tears, Tessa realizes that someone—or something—is trying to communicate with her. And it involves a secret that’s been shrouded in mystery for more than one hundred years.
With the help of three new friends, Tessa begins unraveling the mystery of what happened in the house on Shady Street—and more importantly, what it has to do with her!
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||9 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Lindsay Currie lives in Chicago, Illinois, with one incredibly patient hubby, three amazing kids, and a 160-pound lap dog named Sam. She’s fond of tea, Halloween, Disney World, and things that go bump in the night!
Read an Excerpt
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street
I can’t believe they’re making me do this. We’re in the van already and it isn’t even light outside. I begged them to change their minds, but they said Dad’s new job is important to him and that families should support each other—not make each other give up the things they love. I don’t even think they’re listening to themselves or they wouldn’t have made me give up Florida. And you. I miss you already.
Rain batters the windshield of our ancient minivan, the wipers furiously working to keep the glass clear. City lights fade to a blur in my tired eyes. We left Fort Myers on Thursday morning. Nineteen hours in a seat belt, four Twinkies, twenty-one old episodes of The Simpsons, and one cramped hotel later we finally get here . . . Chicago. The Windy City.
My parents keep saying this place is going to be everything we ever needed but didn’t know existed. Whatever that means.
“Our house was built in the late eighteen hundreds, you know. So of course there will be some work to do,” Dad says, loud enough so I can hear, but quiet enough not to wake my little brother, Jonah.
Mom is nodding enthusiastically. “I know. But it’s so worth it. Think of all that original wood! And those high ceilings! It’s a dream.”
I roll my eyes. It isn’t a dream, but there’s no telling them that.
The car swerves violently around something in the road, and I crane my neck to see what it was. Shadows dance in the darkness stretched out in front of us. “What was that?”
“Just a limb in the road. Everything’s fine. We’re alllllmost there,” Dad says in that voice he uses when he’s trying to lighten the mood. “You okay back there, honey?”
I look up but can’t see his expression in the rearview mirror. I’m kinda glad. If I could see it, he’d probably look wild and excited like he always does when he talks about moving here. About his new job.
Given that I just left behind my best friend, Rachel, a seventh-grade year that was going to be amazing, and my favorite drawing class, I’m not too interested in seeing that look right now.
“I’m fine. Just a little nervous. We’re going to get there okay, right?” I ask as another small branch pings off our hood. Leaves are pinwheeling frantically through the air and landing on our windshield in a disgusting, wet mess.
“Of course we are, Tess. This is just a fall thunderstorm,” Dad answers, leaning forward even more. “Nothing like hurricane season back in Florida. Remember all the times we almost evacuated?”
I nod but stay silent. Truth is, we did almost evacuate a lot, but we never actually had to. It was warm there, too. Like the sun followed you around just to kiss the tops of your shoulders and lighten your hair. Based on the few times we’ve visited here to house-hunt, I know it feels different. Colder.
Mom reaches back, looking for me in the darkness. I grab her hand even though I still feel angry. Deep down I know it isn’t her fault. It isn’t anyone’s. When the Chicago Symphony Orchestra comes calling with an opportunity, you answer. And my dad—the best violinist in all of Florida—was the guy they called to audition when the first chair opened up.
I glance at Jonah, who is still sound asleep in his car seat. Both of his arms are wound tightly around Reno, the wooden ventriloquist dummy he refuses to go anywhere without. I hate the way Reno looks at me. Like he’s watching me. Beady eyes, circus clothes, and a shock of black hair glued to wood . . . ugh.
Jonah settles deeper into his car seat and lets out a soft moan. I have no idea how he’s sleeping through this disaster, but for a minute, I wish he weren’t. Maybe if he started crying, Dad would stop the van. Maybe if he threw up, we could at least slow down a little. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Dad sighs. “It’s taken us an hour since we hit the city limits, but according to my GPS, the house is just around this corner. This looks familiar, right, Lily?”
“Well, it obviously looks different in the dark, but I think so,” Mom answers, a nervous laugh escaping her lips. Mom is the most positive person I know, but I think she’s just as scared about this move as me. Maybe even more.
I get it. I have no idea how she’ll sell her paintings here or if she even can. There aren’t any tiny seaside art shops or nautical boutiques here . . . and I can’t imagine people in Chicago paying big money for pictures of seagulls and turtles and waves.
The car hugs the next curve as we turn slowly onto a narrow, one-way street. This is the right block. Small black wrought iron fences wrap around the trees. Parking signs jut up from the cement every few feet. A giant, metallic birdhouse-looking thingy sits on the corner. Mom says it’s art, but I think it’s horrible. Art is soft, and pastel, and shaded . . . not metallic and sharp.
“This is the right place,” I pipe up, unable to keep the disappointment from leaking into my voice. I remember this block well enough from the two times we came to see the house. Mom and Dad drooled over it. I smiled when I felt like crying because although my parents are excited, I know they feel guilty for dragging Jonah and me here. I can see it in the looks they give each other when they think I’m not paying attention. I might miss Florida and all, but I don’t want them to feel bad. Life happens, or so the bumper stickers say.
“Finally!” Dad breathes out. He pulls the car onto the small patch of cement they keep calling a driveway and turns it off. The headlights stay on for a few seconds longer, fixed on the wooden garage door at the bottom of the slope. I remember hearing that it leads into a parking spot in the basement. A drive-in basement.
Dad twists around in his seat and squares his body off between Mom and me so he can talk to both of us. “Now remember, there’s just the bare bones in here right now. A few things the previous owners left in here to make our transition easier until the moving vans arrive tomorrow.”
Mom raises an eyebrow. “You mean, a few things that were too much of a hassle for them to move out. Right, Chris?”
Dad tosses her a wink and a grin in response. I squint through the rain, wondering exactly what was left in this place. Hopefully nothing gross.
Mom and I toss open our doors and make a run for it while Dad grabs Jonah from his car seat. I can hear my brother screeching from my spot on the front porch. The whole neighborhood probably thinks there’s a wild animal on the loose.
Reno’s knobby wooden knees clank together as Dad jogs through the gauzy sheets of rain. He sets Jonah down on the top step, then rakes a hand through his dripping-wet hair.
“Well,” he says, fishing in his pocket for something. Hopefully the keys because it’s freezing out here.
“Well,” Mom echoes, taking a tearstained Jonah by the hand. He’s clutching Reno like a life preserver. “This is it!”
Our new house is huge. Three floors and built like Fort Knox. Apparently Chicagoans call it a graystone, which is really just a fancy name for a cement house. I run a finger over the brick, shivering at how cold and unwavering it is.
Back in Florida, nothing was brick. Nothing was really this gray, either. We had houses that were blue, green, and even yellow.
I let my eyes settle on one of the second-floor windows. That room is mine. Mom picked it out during the house tour, started talking crazy fast about decorations and colors and how much I’d love the view. All I saw then was an old room with warped wooden floors and cracked paint. All I see now is ugly gray brick and the dark, gaping eye of a window. It’s watching me, this house. Waiting to swallow me whole in its cobwebby corners and creaky closets.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There is always more to a story than what we see on the surface. Any given circumstance could turn out to be the exact opposite of what it looks like. I feel that lesson resonates through these pages and drives home a great point about not judging circumstances or people by the way they initially appear. I think the main and supporting characters in this book are relatable to young readers with just the right amount of family embarrassment, teen angst, and friendship woes interwoven to create a great group of young ghost-hunters. I also enjoyed the history in the book. Chicago is a beautiful city with a lot of history. The homes, buildings, and cemeteries are worth drawing attention to, and Currie does just that in this beautifully researched story. Overall, I found this to be a creative story with solid lessons about friendship and family. Read full review at: KaitsBookshelf.com
Thank you to the author and publisher for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. This book is officially one of my favorite books of the year. Loved it. LOVED IT! As someone who fields a lot of book requests for this age group, and especially a lot of requests for “a really good ghost story”, this book couldn’t have come along at a better time. I’m often asked to recommend a new ghost story, one that hasn’t been on the shelves for years, that isn’t gruesome or “blood curdling”, but also isn’t cheesy and too adolescent-feeling. You know, a great read for that upper elementary/middle school/middle grade group of readers. Thanks to Lindsay, I now have the perfect title to recommend. I’ll be honest and tell you that I feel like I can’t even be objective with this review because I loved it so much and just want to rave about it to everyone. So that’s what I’m gong to do. (This is where I’d insert a winking emoji. You’re welcome.) As a reader who’s doorway into a book is almost always the characters, I’m going to start there. These kids were fantastic. I appreciated that they were smart and witty and self-sufficient. They felt like they’d be relatable to readers of the same age group (I’m way beyond the target audience in age here, but totally would’ve wanted to be friends with these kids back in the day). And the parents, while not having a hugely prominent presence in the story, were quirky and added a fun dimension to the story. And then there’s the story itself. Lindsay did a phenomenal job of researching local lore and locations in order to make this story feel truly authentic. She had just the right amount of spooky and scary mixed in with history and adventure, and it kept the pages turning steadily. (So steadily, in fact, that I was really sad when I realized I was down to the last five.) Highly recommend.
This is a middle grade story about ghosts, friendship, family and Chicago that I couldn’t stop reading! It is based upon a true story from Graceland Cemetery in Chicago and at first was really scary (at least for someone who NEVER reads ghost stories!). In fact I told my husband one evening that I had to stop reading or I’d never sleep! However, the mystery, the characters, the friendships and the great story had me quickly picking it up the next day. As more of the characters were revealed, and the more I learned about the ghost of the little girl who was haunting Tessa (the strong, brave, resourceful and likeable main character) the more I wanted to quickly finish the book. I know this is going to be a perfect story for all of those kids who ask for a scary book! And there are definitely a LOT of those kids in every library. But more importantly, this is a great choice for kids who are coping with middle school friendships, acceptance of a not so normal family or quirky friends. 5 stars for sure!
This book is PHENOMENAL. It’s a middle grade ghost story so you should read it just for that! Currie will creep you out in the best way. But even though there’s a two-hundred-year-old mystery and dusty, hidden secrets and LOTS of scary stuff (the kind of scary stuff that gave me gooseflesh and all over chills), there is also tenderness and kindness and SO MANY BEAUTIFUL MESSAGES ABOUT FRIENDSHIP AND BELONGING AND ACCEPTANCE. The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street is the rare gem of a book that interlaces strong family support, budding friendships, brilliant jump-off-the-page kids, history and mystery. I commend Currie for this beautiful story. This story that would not let me go. I devoured it in a day because it is wholly devourable (not a word, but still). It is. Devourable. Currie’s characters are a group of kids that will make you laugh out loud while you’re rooting for them to solve century’s old mystery. And Jonah and his ventriloquist doll (and his spill of Legos) have my whole heart. The characters are real and pulsing and filled with the beautiful spirit of warm innocence and tender curiosity. I want to read each of their stories so, L Currie, please write a story for each one of them. Please and thank you. And sweet Inez, the ghost. Sigh. I’m so glad you met the kids at Shady Street. Brava, L Currie! This book is magical and haunting in the most tender way. I am so grateful to have received an early ARC of this book from the publisher and then pre-ordered the book for my son's class!