Published: June 1st, 2013
By: Lois Ruby
Infused with history and mystery, this tale of ghosts, love, and murder takes place in present-day Gettysburg, where the Civil War still looms large.
Lori Chase doesn't know what to think about ghosts. She may have seen a few in the past, but those were just childish imaginings...right? Only now that she is living in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, spirits seem to be on everyone's mind. The town is obsessed with its bloody Civil War history, and the old inn that Lori's parents run is supposedly haunted by the souls of dead soldiers.
Then Lori meets one such soldier--the devastatingly handsome Nathaniel Pierce. Nathaniel's soul cannot rest, and he desperately needs Lori's help. Because Nathaniel was not killed in the famous battle. He was murdered. Lori begins to investigate the age-old mystery, stumbling upon shocking clues and secrets.
At the same time, she can't help falling for Nathaniel, just as he is falling for her....
First off before I dig an deeper than the surface of this book, the title is a COMPLETE misnomer! This book centers around the ghost of a soldier from the Union, a.k.a. the Northern Army. Not the Southern one, who are referred to as the 'rebel' army. Therefore it makes no offense, and is slightly confusing. There, now that inconsistency is out of the way, let's get on with the actual review! :) Lorelai 'Lori' Chase is a sixteen year old girl who is forced to move with her parents to Gettysburg, away from all her friends, so they can finally open their own Bed and Breakfast like they've always wanted to. The building they've purchased comes with an inherited staff, some creaks and fix-it situations - oh yeah, and did anyone mention the ghost of a murdered soldier? Lori has been keeping a secret from her parents and her best friend for a long time that makes this ghost a nuisance. She can see him and communicate with him. Lori has been able to see spirits for years. With the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg approaching, soldier Nathaniel Pierce only has a short amount of time to discover who murdered him and why so he can rest in peace. With treasure, scorned relatives and battlefield mayhem clouding the truth will Lori ever be able to help him find out what really happened? And how can she stop herself from falling for such a charming guy...even though he's dead? With treasure at stake things quickly turn deadly and it will take all her wits for Lori to make it out alive.
What's new Scooby Doo? That's what I felt like saying as I read a good majority of this novel. It reads like a movie-of-the-week suspense piece and the middle grade feel/style did it no favors for me either. Of course, sucker that I am, I couldn't resist a book involving a Civil War ghost and a murder mystery. *Slaps forehead dramatically.* D'oh! This wasn't a badly written book by any means - a cute, cookie-cutter middle grade, paranormal romance. It was just unfortunately predictable, the characters were bland without any real development/spice and the whodunit was pretty cut and dried. Oh yeah, it also employed the dreaded paranormal love triangle and insta-love tropes. The cute lawn boy who's in his summer before college or the ghost of a Union soldier (who actually seems like kind of a smug dick most of the time to me). Choices, choices and of course they both luuurrrvvveee Lori and want to be with her. Yeah, sure. Also, this whole thing takes place in less than a week. To me that just comes across as lazy under the pretense of plot momentum. Ruby mentions some seriously great stuff like reenactments on battlefields, cemetery 'ghost' tours and presidential connections to her own murder mystery. But that's all they are in a really short and underdeveloped book - tidbits of things that could have made this book far better than it was.
This is the kind of book that 12 year old me would have devoured and 'loved forever and ever!' (As evidenced by my recent Caroline B. Cooney re-reads, I was nowhere near as harsh [i.e. bitter] of a book reader back then]). I would read anything with pages and ink at that point in my life, so that isn't really saying much. Even Ruby's attempt at inserting interesting guests at the B&B fell short of a working plot device. The ending is very neatly tied up, but is very vague in terms of answering what the characters will end up doing/being. I would recommend this to teachers with reluctant readers, and those who want to get a kid interested in history with some light fiction. Overall, not for me but I'm sure it would entice someone to read and I do give props to the author (and subtract some personal points) that she kept me reading to the end.
VERDICT: 2/5 Stars
*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published on June 1st, 2013.*