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Grave Secrets

by Sylvia McNicoll

For Nicholas Dilon, 15, who’s recently moved into a new neighbourhood, the usual problems of making new friends and starting at a new school are compounded by ghostly goings-on. Nick’s plagued by nightmares about the drowning of a five-year-old boy that happened in the swimming pool that used to be in the backyard. He begins to see the ghost of the teenager supposedly responsible for the death, and he smells chlorine even though it’s over five years since the pool was filled in. When Nick tries to find out just what happened, he’s confronted by a wall of silence. Nobody – not the real estate agent, neighbours, the house’s former owner, even his own parents – wants to talk.

Grave Secrets is full of supernatural chills but at its heart is a whodunit equally as thrilling as the surrounding ghost story. What makes the book work is the neat balancing act between supernatural thriller and fast-paced mystery. But the book is more than just a good mystery with a supernatural twist. McNicoll illuminates the changing dynamics in Nick’s family as he explores why his parents are keeping him in the dark – there’s more going on than the mystery. His changing relationships with his father and mother as well as his developing friendships with neighbours, including an older woman called the Stick Lady, add realistic background.

Grave Secrets should appeal especially to preteens and younger teenage boys. It’s fast-paced and full of action and ends on just the right note to satisfy ghost story fans and mystery buffs alike.


Reviewer: Jeffrey Canton

Publisher: Stoddart Kids


Price: $9.99

Page Count: 228 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 0-7737-6015-6

Released: Feb.

Issue Date: 1999-6

Categories: Children and YA Fiction

Age Range: ages 8–12