Since it’s Halloween this week but I’m too chicken to read horror books, I figured I would cheat and review a not-so-scary book that has “ghosts” in the title! Tuesday Mooney is a “prospect researcher” for a large hospital in Boston — that’s fundraising-speak for someone who pulls together information on wealthy potential donors. At a benefit gala for the hospital, one of its richest and most eccentric donors, Vincent Pryce (yes, Pryce with a “y”), collapses and dies, leaving behind a mysterious citywide scavenger hunt that is open to all. When Tuesday is approached by the also-crazy-wealthy Nathaniel Arches to partner in the hunt, she finds herself strangely drawn to him and to the mysterious challenge. So along with Nathaniel, her drag queen/banker friend Dex, and her teenage neighbor Dorry, Tuesday plunges into a frenzied and even perilous search for the unspecified prize at the end of the hunt.
Much of the story’s appeal lies in its offbeat characters. Tuesday is a shy, brilliant goth girl who lives (of course) with her cat in Somerville, just outside Boston. In her thirties, she’s pretty comfortable with her life, but she’s never gotten over the loss of her best friend in high school. Her neighbor Dorry is sixteen. Grappling with the death of her mother, Dorry looks to Tuesday as a female role model in her life. Tuesday’s friend Dex has just broken up with his latest boyfriend, is unhappy in his work, and still trying to find his place in life. And Nathaniel Arches is … complicated. I won’t say more so I don’t spoil the plot. Each of the characters’ inner struggles draws closer and closer to the surface as the scavenger hunt progresses, and everything comes together in one final, dramatic scene.
Racculia lived in Boston for a long time and her love for the city shines through in the book. The treasure hunt takes us from Beacon Hill to Somerville and many places in between. She also weaves in many clever references to Edgar Allan Poe, Boston’s native son and the perfect foundation for the hunt. And although a ghost might show up in the book, the only really scary characters are the living people who behave badly. While set against a sort-of supernatural background, this is really a story about finding yourself, appreciating the ones you love, and personal redemption. In the end, this entertaining “scary” story really becomes a heartwarming one. Great for teens too!