J L DuRona
After their previous adventure, step-sisters Lacey and Cal Berge have managed to repair their strained relationship. They’re much closer after what happened at the family mansion when they toured the strange Neitherswarth. But now, Lacey must return to her boarding school – the slightly spooky and very isolated St Agatha’s Boarding School for Girls – and to her best friend and roommate, Vic. The school is also finally demolishing the ruined building of Warble Hall – one of the school’s dormitories which burned down some 30 years beforehand. When Cal comes to the school for a visit the day before the demolition day, she’s determined to explore the ruins of the old dormitory, her inquisitive mind always hunting for more knowledge; even if it’s dangerous. Lacey forbids her younger sister from going – but Cal still sneaks out, armed only with an old camera. Exasperated, Lacey goes after her; but with the sisters’ penchant for the paranormal, nothing will ever be as simple as photographing some old ruins…
The Ghosts of Warble Hall is an enchanting, spooky tale perfect for an autumnal night. But, it’s also more than that. It’s a tale of family, friendship and everlasting bonds. The secrets of the ghosts of the hall that Lacey uncovers are heartbreaking and yet beautiful – as she continues to learn that sisterhood isn’t necessarily about blood. It’s a tough lesson for a young teen to learn – with hormones and a raging temper often clouding her judgement.
What I also find incredible about this book (and the previous Neitherswarth), is that DuRona has included a neurodivergent main character in Cal. She’s forthright, straightforward and has sensory issues as well as having an encyclopaedic – almost eidetic – mind. The way in which DuRona writes about Cal is (in my mind) empathetic towards the neurodivergent community; he isn’t condescending nor is he mocking. He’s straightforward and clearly accepts and loves Cal for who she is. A brilliant person with a compelling personality. She might not always understand social cues, but she tries to – to the point where she actually trains Snarly, the somewhat clingy Grincub, how to react when he’s being chastised. It bought a smile to my face.
The Berge Sisters: The Ghosts of Warble Hall is out now.
I was sent The Berge Sisters: The Ghosts of Warble Hall directly from J L DuRona in exchange for a fair and honest review.