Beth is helping her grieving father solve the mystery behind a house fire that appears to have claimed a life. The house had been a children’s home, thankfully the children escaped the fire. This is no ordinary father-daughter relationship, however, for Beth is a ghost. She was killed in a car accident in which her Aunt was driving, and her father, after losing his wife, has now lost his daughter. Beth’s father is the only who can see and hear her, until they meet Isobel Catching. Isobel is a witness form the home, and is keen to tell her story. Her telling is very mysterious, in verse form. As Michael, Beth’s father, investigates the fire, more people die, this time murdered. Mystery surrounds the house and it is Catching’s cryptic tale that begins to reveal the tragedy that had been occurring there for years. Catching, an unreliable narrator, is pivotal to the narrative.
Because Catching didn’t want to be helped. Only heard.
This is a thought provoking story that draws you in to the mystery of the children’s home and those in power in this small community. Told from the viewpoints of both Isabel and Beth, with Isabel’s sections being in verse form while Beth’s in prose, there is not a word wasted, nor out of place. Characterisation is strong and the plot develops and deepens, drawing the reader quickly and sustaining suspense and intrigue throughout this literary masterpiece. Real characters and a well developed plot reveal atrocities that have occurred in our history, just because white men could, and thought they could get away with it.
This is a must read and one I will be promoting with my students. Landscape, place and people are all strong elements in this original mystery for young adults. I cannot recommend this highly enough.
Many thanks to Allen and Unwin for supplying this book for review.