Monday, August 17, 2009

Enter if You Dare

56 Water Street
by Melissa Strangway
iUniverse Inc., ©2007

56 Water Street is a startling and mysterious book. Designed for young mystery readers and ghost hunters, the book follows the events surrounding a spooky abandoned house and two ten year old friends, Derek and Ravine.

Nobody in town talks about the rambling, weather worn house at 56 Water Street. This is truly bizarre, because strange stuff is happening. The book opens with Derek and Ravine noticing the lights flickering on and off in the long abandoned house. Feeling frightened and concerned, the children rush home to tell their parents only to shockingly discover their parents say there is no house at that address. Eventually, the children find out they are the only ones who notice the house and the strange happenings inside. To the rest of the world, 56 Water Street is a vacant lot with a sordid past.

Derek and Ravine need to find out why they are the only ones able to see the house at 56 Water Street. What does it mean that they can see it and others can’t? They slowly take more chances to investigate and actually enter the house, learning that time stands still for them when they enter the premises. Even more bizarre then the house itself, there is a supernatural force compelling them to become involved with the house. This force enters their dreams and thoughts and compels them to return to the house again and again. It is as if somebody or something is trying to get their attention and trying to give them a message from the other side.

With the help of a fortune teller, who is actually a self proclaimed spirtit medium, Derek and Ravine come to acknowledge that they too have a special gift. Similar to Cole in the Sixth Sense, Derek and Ravine have a sensitivity to dead people who are trapped on earth. It is this sensitivity that allows them to see and enter 56 Water Street and to realize that the resident ghost on the premises needs their help before she can finally rest in peace. Accepting the spooky task the universe has laid at their feet, the children venture once again into the house to help the ghost solve the sorrowful mystery that is keeping her spirit form bound to the house. What follows is a spine-tingling and eerie adventure with an uplifting and hopeful ending.

This book is a sound example of a middle grade mystery. The protagonists are relatable and you are able to become attached to them, particularly Ravine. Her façade of strength and courage is obviously only a thin layer attempting to cover over a very tortured soul. Since she has suffered from her own recent tragedy, it makes sense why she is perhaps more in tune to other spiritual realms. Ravine’s tragedy and the ghost’s dilemma in 56 Water Street create a very melancholy undertone in addition to all the chills and surprises of the mystery in the book. The pain in this book is palpable and it strongly evokes the emotional sensibilities of the reader. I would recommend this book for those who are looking for a tingling paranormal mystery.

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