Eleanor, Alice & the Roosevelt Ghosts
Author: Dianne K. Salerni
Published: August 25, 2020
Publisher: Holiday House
Murderous ghosts and buried family secrets threaten young Eleanor and Alice Roosevelt in this thrilling middle-grade novel that puts a supernatural spin on alternate history.
It’s 1898 in New York City and ghosts exist among humans.
When an unusual spirit takes up residence at the Roosevelt house, thirteen-year-old Eleanor and fourteen-year-old Alice are suspicious. The cousins don’t get along, but they know something is not right. This ghost is more than a pesky nuisance. The authorities claim he’s safe to be around, even as his mischievous behavior grows stranger and more menacing. It’s almost like he wants to scare the Roosevelts out of their home – and no one seems to care!
Meanwhile, Eleanor and Alice discover a dangerous ghost in the house where Alice was born and her mother died. Is someone else haunting the family? Introverted Eleanor and unruly Alice develop an unlikely friendship as they explore the family’s dark, complicated history. It’s up to them to destroy both ghosts and come to terms with their family’s losses.
Told from alternating perspectives, thrills and chills abound in Dianne K. Salerni’s imaginative novel about a legendary family and the ghosts that haunt their secrets.
From the start I’d like to say that this is an innovative and fun Middle Grade read! It’s just paranormal enough with a bit of history thrown in! This book is set in an alternative history world where ghosts are real. Alice and Eleanor were real Roosevelt cousins and some of the details of their family are accurate. I love that the author took a less-well known part of history and made it fun for middle grade readers!
The prose is easy to understand, not as formal as a book set in 1898 would normally have. But, I think the author absolutely toes the line between formality and MG reading levels. The cover art is enticing for a 7-12 year old and I would have my son read this book for his school as we are coming up on Spooky Season! The prose is very well-written and edited. I felt it was not only appropriate for this reading level, but also for adults to enjoy as well! Eleanor and Alice are juxtaposed characters that fit perfectly into this narrative. Eleanor is quiet and blends into the woodwork, mostly due to the fact that she’s been raised by a grandmother who is strict and firmly planted in 19th century principles of decorum. Alice is a wild child with a pet snake who has convinced her guardian to sew pockets into all of her skirts so she can carry her things around. They embark on a paranormal adventure/mystery that is absolutely magical!
I loved the setting, 19th century New York with ghosts! The narrative had fast pacing which drove the story along into the adventure! The worldbuilding is limited since this is a Middle Grade book, but I felt that the events in the book are described in a way that the worldbuilding is, for lack of a better term, built into the story where I didn’t notice it. I think this is incredibly helpful for MG readers because they can get bored quickly with information dumps. This book is 240 pages, which is great for this genre/reading level.
Another thing I really enjoyed were the interludes between the chapters! The first interlude is an advertisement for Edison’s Ghost Lamp, another is a Primer on Types of Ghosts! Another is census records, which contribute to the mystery! Then a news article, a Western Union wire for money. It’s all evidence and it is magical! This is a book that I would have loved to read as a MG reader!
I would recommend this to all MG readers who are interested in mysteries and ghosts. I will definitely be buying a copy for my son, because this is perfect for him! Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Holiday House for the opportunity to review an ARC of this book! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.