Go to Homepage   Melinda Rucker Haynes: Ghostly Acts

 

New Concepts Publishing (Ebook),
ISBN 1-891020-75-7
Imagine being uprooted from a normal teenage life in Seattle, Washington, to live in a dilapidated theater in Virginia City, Montana. Then imagine that the theater is haunted by a ghost who protects the town from an evil force buried in the theater's basement. 

That's the premise of Ghostly Acts, an e-pub young adult novel by Melinda Rucker Haynes. I read the book with my twelve-year-old daughter, Marisa, who gave it two thumbs up. I had a few reservations, but since Marisa represents the target audience, I bow to her superior expertise. 

Electra O'Neill, the story's heroine, and her parents are serious theater devotees. So when they inherit an abandoned theater in Montana, they jump at the chance to refurbish the building and bring live stage productions to the town. They pack Ele and her devilish brother Eugene into the car, and set off with great enthusiasm -- and very little else. 

Perhaps as a reaction to his parents' choice in children's names, Eugene thrives on practical jokes. He does a good job of ruining the town's first impressions of the family.  

Ele's unwillingness to like the town makes her new schoolmates dislike her too. Just when it seems things can't get any more miserable, Ele realizes that the theater is haunted, but not by just any ghost -- by an incredibly handsome, young gentleman ghost named Steven, who died in 1863 and who thinks Ele is the most beautiful creature he's ever laid eyes on. It's a little difficult to have a romance with someone only you can see, but Ele, like any good heroine, doesn't let that get in her way. 

Life begins to get wonderful, but that group of evil spirits waits in the wings, and it's only a matter of time before they figure out a way to escape. 

The story is told through Ele's eyes, and her flippant attitude sometimes makes it difficult to understand the action. I found the ending confusing, especially given the names of the relevant parties.  

Nevertheless, Marisa declared the story "very well written," and would definitely recommend it. I liked the way the author suggested that the folks in Virginia City, who got more unpleasant as the book progressed, were only under the influence of the evil force. And we both liked the way the epilogue resolved the love affair, even if it was predictable. It's always nice to think that love transcends time and space. 

Lauren Rabb 

Lauren Rabb is the author of Walking Through Time.

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