A Curious Tale of the In-Between Review || A Little Less Deep and A Pinch More Whimsy, Please

Author: Lauren DeStefano Publishing Date: September 1st, 2015 Genre: middle grade, fantasy, horror, paranormal Pram Bellamy is ...

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publishing Date: September 1st, 2015
Genre: middle grade, fantasy, horror, paranormal

Pram Bellamy is special--she can talk to ghosts. She doesn't have too many friends amongst the living, but that's all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.
Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram's power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

Warning: this review is probably going to be a little jumbled. I absolutely loved the story, but at the same time felt confused and bothered with SOMETHING. I know generally what I was confused by, but it's hard to pin point and articulate exactly what it was that I'm concerned with. So this is a toughy to review...

I have three complaints, and they are these-

1. I knew it was for middle-grade, so I expected it to be whimsical. Dark, yes, but in a fun way- like Series of Unfortunate Events or something. Now maybe my image of who's in middle-grade is slightly askew, but I felt like this story was too DARK. The Mom's suicide, and Lady Savant's general terrifying-ness are the main issues. Not that middle-grade people don't need to read about suicide, it's just... as a 19 year old I had to take a step back and be like, "....whoa that's sad."

2. The ending was a little disappointing for me. I don't want to foul the mood for the ending or give away spoilers, it's just... I expected MORE? I think all of my distastes for this book revolve heavily around the fact that I was expecting a magical, whimsical, fun children's book where everything ends happily. The author gave me dark reality.

3. There are flashbacks for some ghosts, and I couldn't tell who it was for. It was confusing to me. Was it saying that these two ghosts Pram knows are related? Was it saying this is what happened to that boy, and the other kid with him was Pram's friend? I don't know! Couldn't quite figure that one out.


My feelings of being caught off guard by the darkness aside, this was a phenomenal book. It dealt with depression, and suicide, and abandonment, loneliness, insane asylum nut jobs. There were asylums, abandoned buildings, caravans, old folks homes, cozy little sea side towns. It had a broad cast of characters- little Pram and her child friends (ghost and human alike), the aunt's who ran an old folks home, Clarence's father, the elderly who interacted with Pram. There's just a wide spectrum of people and it was nice to see a middle-grade book that didn't have solely middle grade characters.

And each character, in their own rights, were well developed. The Aunt's baked and created a warm, safe environment for Pram. They did their best. They were not the main character's, but DeStefano still got across the point that these were strong women who loved their niece.

Back to the sad parts! This book made me FEEL. I love a book that can make me connect with a character and make me compare my own life to what's laid out before me on the pages. Like with this scene:
"[Pram] had spent her entire life worrying that she could never be the woman her mother had been, while her aunts had worried that she would. And now that she was getting taller, and her face more angled, they worried more than ever. And so they did something for Pram that they had never done for their younger sister. They stood and each kissed one of her cheeks, and they said together, "We love you," for the first and perhaps only time."
Pram is isolated, not in a cruel way, but none-the-less she is a little girl with not many friends. She has spent her whole life with people NOT telling her they love her. Her aunt's do love her. They are very kind to her, but the words are never said. This scene made me stop and go tell my family I love them. Sure, they looked at me like I was a complete nut, but PEOPLE NEED TO HEAR THE WORDS!

It was very cute, but again, I felt the topic was too heavy for the age range, and it was a little confusing at parts, and I didn't get my joyous ending I felt I deserved (not a BAD ending, just not...magical). 
But that may just be me! Pick it up if you want a quick, good , and rather spooky read.

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