A stylish debut mystery with the perfect balance of sweetness and scares!
Thirteen-year-old Bernie’s summer is looking pretty grim. It’s hard to make friends when your family runs a monument company, and your backyard is littered with tombstones. It’s even harder when your mother suddenly refuses to leave her room . . .
To make matters worse, her father has just hired a new artist to engrave the headstones–the creepy Mr. Stein. Bernie has a bad feeling about him right from the start, and after snooping around his cottage, she discovers an engraved portrait of their neighbor . . . a woman who promptly dies the next day. And it’s not just a weird coincidence. The pattern continues, and Bernie realizes that Mr. Stein has begun engraving headstones before people die, which forces Bernie to ask a horrifying question: Is Mr. Stein predicting the deaths . . . or causing them?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lately I have been on a string of middle grade novels that left a lot to be desired. This one–total joy. I loved Bernie. She is the kind of character that will make your child feel like they have a new friend. Her attitude is often funny and the thoughts she has about the boy who likes her are hilarious.
I think the thing I enjoyed the most about this book, was that it was different. You don’t see too many stories out there where the main characters are in the headstone and monument business. This was a perfect backdrop to build an interesting and original story that you older children will surely love.
The story of why her mother was acting as she did was touching but not overly graphic or soppy to the point that it was tear producing. I liked the dynamic between the good hero and the bad bad guy. Bernie is pretty stealthy and smart and Mr. Stein was creepy!
I also really liked that there was a balance of terror and humour, realistic events and child-like feautures to this book.
This was a fun read that I imagine middle-grade students and parents alike will both enjoy. I would definitely recommend it. You don’t have to be a child to have fun with it.
This review is based on a digital ARC from Netgalley and the publisher.