The New York Times bestselling author of Dread Nation makes her middle grade debut with a sweeping tale of the ghosts of our past that won’t stay buried, starring an unforgettable girl named Ophie.
Ophelia Harrison used to live in a small house in the Georgia countryside. But that was before the night in November 1922, and the cruel act that took her home and her father from her. Which was the same night that Ophie learned she can see ghosts.
Now Ophie and her mother are living in Pittsburgh with relatives they barely know. In the hopes of earning enough money to get their own place, Mama has gotten Ophie a job as a maid in the same old manor house where she works.
Daffodil Manor, like the wealthy Caruthers family who owns it, is haunted by memories and prejudices of the past–and, as Ophie discovers, ghosts as well. Ghosts who have their own loves and hatreds and desires, ghosts who have wronged others and ghosts who have themselves been wronged. And as Ophie forms a friendship with one spirit whose life ended suddenly and unjustly, she wonders if she might be able to help–even as she comes to realize that Daffodil Manor may hold more secrets than she bargained for.
Murder mystery. Eh, gimme more. Historic murder mystery. Okay but more. 1920s murder mystery about a twelve-year-old black girl who’s a medium. You got me.
Ophie and her mother are run out of Georgia by murder-happy racists and land in Pittsburgh, living with extended family and working for non-murderous racists. Well, it’s a murder mystery so chances are there’s at least one murder-happy person around.
The settings are so good, they even have sections from their perspectives. I was very confused by the first couple, but soon got used to learning what the house or trolley think of things. Ophie’s Pittsburgh home is tiny and houses eight people once she and her mother move in. Nine if you count the ghost who minds the garden. The house she works in is massive and mostly unused but filled to the brim with spirits. She commutes by trolley and I adore a good trolley.
Ophie puts clues together reasonably quickly, once she decides she wants to solve a mystery. Some clues are forgotten or ignored for a good chunk of the book, which I found frustrating. A less careful or less experienced reader (i.e. the middle grade target audience probably) likely won’t catch many of those clues until a second reading.
Content Warnings: No deaths are seen first-hand in this book, but we do get the aftermath visible on ghosts. There’s violent racism and lower key verbal racism.