Spooky Midwest Mysteries: and a GIVEAWAY!

Dogs I've loved- Kaffe copy

The deadline has passed and the winner of the ghost story pack is:


Hope your kids enjoy them!

Crisp, crunching leaves the color of a crackling campfire, the smell of s’mores blending with burning wood, pumpkin-dotted fields and corn mazes…autumn in the midwest.

ghost on stairsPerfect conditions for Halloween, and ghost stories!

In the “spirit” of the season, pun intended, I’d like to shine a local light on a set of books that are ideally suited as read-aloud or read-alone selections. These are entirely intense, action-packed, and suspenseful enough for any taste. They’re page-turning and potent, but sweetened with humor and salted with distinct personalities. The squabbling Tucker sisters and their friends lead readers smack into the paths of ghosts and pseudo-ghosts. Friction and fright prevail, but tongue-in-cheek commentary by one or the other about the foolishness of their choices allows readers to climb aboard for a wild ride without feeling like fools.


Shadow Island, by Raymond Bial. Crispin Books, 2013

Amanda Tucker and younger sister Sally make their debut in SHADOW ISLAND: A TALE OF LAKE SUPERIOR. Author Raymond Bial has a long list of credits including children’s books and photography. In this offering a seemingly typical midwest family make their way to a nearly abandoned outpost/resort area on Lake Superior, where they promptly hear warnings and ghost stories about the island, vaguely visible just across the waters from their inlet– Shadow Island. 

The only predictable thing about this book is that you know, without a doubt, Amanda and her friend Roxanne will end up on the island. Younger siblings being what they are and doing what they do, Sally manages to join them on the adventure.


THE DRESS-UP MIRROR, by Raymond Bial. Crispin Books, 2015.

The story that unfolds will leave listeners/readers on the edge of their seats, hanging on every word. The best thing about this and the subsequent book, The DRESS-UP MIRROR, is that the chilling characters and episodes encountered along the way manage to pack a powerful punch of tension without exploiting gimmicks or gory special effects. It’s the stories that offer shakes and shivers, not detailed descriptions of macabre or heinous acts. 

In the sequel the Tucker family is back home in Maysville, Illinois, residing in their recently purchased historic old home.The first paragraph of the book indicates that anguished noises, nighttime whispers, and danger are lurking within the walls of that old house. In SHADOW ISLAND the ancient building took on the proportions of a character, so I was patient in the early pages of this book while the house itself was described in detail. If used as a seasonal read-aloud with kids impatient for a tingling spine, it might work well to summarize those early pages for listeners and launch into the story fully (could you have guessed?) on page thirteen. 

As you might expect with ghostly tales, time travel is involved, not to mention some threateningly dangerous characters and others who require help to right the wrongs of the past. In each story the Tucker’s placid, pudgy, predictable old beagle, Tulip, rouses herself from slumber and/or snacking to surprise them all by playing pivotal roles in the ultimate resolutions. 

The Fresh Grave, by Raymond Bial. Crick hollow Books, 1997I recommend both books to anyone interested in ghost stories, action/adventure, or simply a fast-paced, kid-friendly thriller. In fact, I’m offering the pair as a giveaway for anyone who thinks they know just the right audience for stories like these. Included in the offer is THE FRESH GRAVE and OTHER GHOSTLY STORIES, Bial’s earlier book set in an obscure/fictional little town in Indiana, featuring teen Hank and his own particularly entertaining crew of friends. 

To enter, just add a comment below no later than Wednesday, October 14 at midnight. Tell me your plans for the book, or share a ghost story/title of your own. Individual entries will be listed on slips of paper and the first one touched by my own pooch wins. I’ll contact the winner by email and send the books out in time to enjoy during this glorious autumn season.

Here’s hoping I’ll hear from many of you, and that you’ll pass along this recommendation.



5 Comments on “Spooky Midwest Mysteries: and a GIVEAWAY!

  1. These books sound awesome and spooky and plan to get them and read them!!!

  2. Sounds like fun reading for Kara and Darcy!
    Don’t include me in your giveaway – being family – but I’ll tell them the titles so they can get them at the library! Thanks for the tip! Might be a good read aloud for our trips to the lake with them next summer. I’ll be calling you if nightmares result!

    • Yep, I think they really would get a kick out of them. The Tucker sisters are 12 and 9, if I’m remembering correctly. really lively personalities, too, in the midst of all the action and mystery-solving! As for the nightmares… read fast to find out all works out well!

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