9 September 2020

Teeny-Tiny Reviews. Midnight Witchcraft & Pesky Ghosts

Welcome to Teeny-Tiny Reviews in which, as blatantly expressed, I share my thoughts about books on a bunch of mini-reviews. I thought it was time to create a feature to review other books than ARCs. With Autumn fast approaching in this corner of the world, the days get darker and the nights colder. It is the perfect season for spooky and magical reads. Okay, I'm in favour of spooky stories all year long, however, Autumn is simply too perfect to curl with a book about pesky ghosts and mischievous spells. Thus, I'm sharing my thoughts on three middle-grade novels that are all about witchcraft and spine-chilling hauntings.

Title: Spirit Hunters [book depository | amazon]
Author: Ellen Oh
Publisher: Haper Collins
We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh returns with Spirit Hunters, a high-stakes middle grade mystery series about Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother. A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn!

Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?
Spirit Hunters is so hauntingly-creepy. Ellen Oh has written a perfect spooky story! To tell the truth, I must say I thought Spirit Hunters terrifying for a middle-grade book. The scariness in Spirit Hunters was not toned down, slowly escalating until the very last page. You can feel something is terribly wrong in Harper's new family home from the very beginning.

I loved Harper! After a strange incident, whose memories she blocked, Harper had to face her worse nightmares to be able to protect her little brother from a devious ghost. Although Harper is recovering from a dark moment in her life, she is brave and does not give up from finding the truth behind the hauntings and about whom she truly is -- even if it means fighting with her mother, who cut relationships with Harper's grandmother, the only person who can tell her who she is.

The narrative, which incorporates passages from Harper's diary and focuses on Korean lore, myths, and beliefs about ghosts, is just so spookily-enticing. To tell the truth, it was impossible to put the book down. Even after nightfall, I was lost in this too scary haunted house.

I'm really excited about the second book in the series, The Island of Monsters, to learn more about the ghost lore behind the world-building and about Harper, who has now unveiled secrets that were once forgotten.


Title: A Dash of Trouble [book depository | amazon]
Author: Anna Meriano
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

A Dash of Trouble is such a charming and heart-warming book. No, it does not feature haunted settings nor annoying creepy ghosts but has brujas and lots of magical mayhem -- especially after Leo discovers she has magical abilities and starts learning how to use on her own.
When Leo finds out that magic runs in her blood, she does not want to wait until she is old enough to be taught how to use it. She decides to learn how to use magic behind closed doors and tries to use it to help her closest friend, Caroline. Of course, this means a lot of mischief and chaos (and bad decisions from both Leo and her sisters). However, with the love of her mother and four older sisters, Leo ends up learning a valuable lesson about love, friendship, trusting, and how to be a great bruja. In the end, A Dash of Trouble is such a sweet story!

What I loved the most about A Dash of Trouble was the blend of magic and food (all the sweet Mexican pastry you can imagine 🤤). Besides, I loved wholeheartedly this family of brujas. Leo's family owns a bakery in which they add magic to the delicacies they bake to make the person who eats it feel better. I now must try the recipes that can be found at the end of the book. Flying pigs cookies do seem very yummy!

Title: Tunnel of Bones [book depository | amazon]
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Scholastic
Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass's parents are filming their TV show about the world's most haunted cities. Sure, it's fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there's true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter -- and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she's unleashed could haunt the city forever.
Before anything else, I must begin by shouting how much I missed the glorious writing of Victoria Schwab. It has been more than a year since I read anything written by her and I missed it so freaking much! Victoria Schwab could write a book about potatoes and I would certainly read it without second-guessing. Nevertheless, I much prefer her writing about ghost hunters, pesky poltergeists, and haunted cities.

In Tunnel of Bones, after her adventures in Edinburgh, Cass has now travelled to Paris with her parents to record the second episode of their television series about the most haunted places in the world. Paris was indeed the perfect setting for Tunnel of Bones (in my opinion, the Catacombs are one of the scariest places in the whole world and hopefully I will have the chance to visit them someday)

Cass did not have a moment of rest sauntering through the Parisian streets and cemeteries. Now, that she has become a ghost hunter, it is her purpose to send ghosts to whenever they must go after dying. Of course, Cass's new calling means a lot of mischief, mayhem, and going into the Veil without no one noticing her prolonged absences. In one of her travels, she catches the attention of an irksome poltergeist that turns Paris upside down.
I must say that I did not remember liking Jacob as much as did in Tunnel of Bones. He was Cass's conscience. Jacob was always putting some sense into her head when things got too ugly in the Veil (or even outside it).

All in all, I really liked Tunnel of Bones. It's such a great middle-grade spooky book, with strong friendships. Moreover, it's about taking responsibility. After all, "with great power, comes great responsibility."

Do you read middle-grade spooky books? What are your favourite middle-grade stories featuring witches, ghosts, and/or haunted houses?

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  1. I do not read spooky books, but I like a good middle grades every once in a while. A Dash of Trouble is one on my radar. It would be a great companion for the Brooklyn Brujas series (which I loved)

  2. I love spooky books, to be honest if it’s a good spooky story I’ll read a kids book or an adults book, I don’t mind!