The description of the story and the cover of the book led me to believe that this novel was going to be kinda creepy, maybe spooky.

Emily Stewart is the girl who claims to stand between the living and the dead. During the quiet summer of 1925, she and her brother, Michael, are thirteen-year-old twins-privileged, precocious, wandering aimlessly around their family’s estate. One day, Emily discovers that she can secretly crack her ankle in such a way that a sound appears to burst through the stillness of midair. Emily and Michael gather the neighborhood children to fool them with these “spirit knockings.”

Soon, however, this game of contacting the dead creeps into a world of adults still reeling from World War I. When the twins find themselves dabbling in the uncertain territory of human grief and family secrets- knock, knock-everything spins wildly out of control.

See? Maybe they start playing with Ouija boards and a bunch of demons take over? Maybe they really talk to a ghost? Perhaps they become possessed and kill all the adults?

No. Nothing. Nothing creepy, nothing spooky, nothing. Total letdown.

The book starts out strong. It’s summer vacation, we all remember how boring it could be at times. Too old to play with toys, too young to actually drive somewhere. The author does a great job with the kids and describing their summertime melancholia.

The middle of the book was strong as well, the kids are fooling not only other kids with their spirit knocking, but also some adults. Things start to get kind of interesting, but also things start to fall apart.

There are far too many family secrets going on. Old secrets, one newish secret. The old secrets are vague and boring. All of the ancestors are too similar. They got confusing; hard to keep them straight, and there didn’t seem to be a payoff at the end for knowing their secrets anyway.

And the denouement? Had more to do with the next door neighbor’s family than with the main characters’ family. Then the story went on a bit longer after that when really it should have ended with summer vacation ending and not stretched on to the new school year and then 20 or so years into the future.

Like I said, it started out really strong, and I was hoping this would be a kind of New England rich kids version of To Kill a Mockingbird, and don’t look at me that way, you can’t write/read a coming of age story about a brother and sister during summer vacation and not think of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Strong start, pretty strong middle, too many uninteresting, unproductive ancestral flashbacks, flat ending.

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