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A properly unhaunted place by William…

A properly unhaunted place (edition 2017)

by William Alexander, Kelly Murphy (Illustrator.)

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403409,044 (3.17)1
Title:A properly unhaunted place
Authors:William Alexander
Other authors:Kelly Murphy (Illustrator.)
Info:New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, [2017]
Collections:Your library

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A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander



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Rosa Diaz is angry, grieving, and confused. She comes from a long line of expert ghost-appeasers, i.e. librarians, and can't understand why her mother, one of the best in the business, has moved them to Ingot the only unhaunted town in the world. When Rosa meets Jasper Chevalier, whose only wish is to disappear in the shadow of his renaissance-fair obsessed father, she at first takes out her anger on him. Gradually, however, the two become friends. It's a good thing they do since Ingot isn't going to be unhaunted for long - and something very dangerous is coming.

Alexander builds a familiar but strange world skillfully, dropping hints and clues along the way without over-explaining, letting readers use their imagination to fill out the story. There are moments of frightening terror, moments of gentle warmth, excitement, magic, and the telling of family secrets.

One thing I did have a hard time believing was that Rosa, who is from cosmopolitan New York, would be surprised that Jasper is biracial, having a white mother and black father. That seemed really odd. However, kids are nothing if not unobservant of life around them I've found so it's possible that she never thought about her biracial friends or classmates. It's gradually revealed that Rosa's father is dead, having been killed in a mistaken attempt to banish rather than appease a ghost, and some readers might be frustrated that Rosa's mom is so withdrawn in her grief, refusing to communicate or explain to her daughter what's happening.

I did appreciate that Alexander packed the whole story into one slim volume, under 200 pages, but it's a complete story with some thoughtful reflection on history, family, and the choices that people make and the way they remember the dead.

Verdict: This was a Cybils finalist in 2017 and it's well-deserved; it's not often I have a book that combines diversity, humor, horror, and fantasy in such well-blended amounts. Hand to readers who like stories with a little shiver but not too much and those who are comfortable reading about ghosts.

ISBN: 9781481469159; Published 2017 by Margaret K. McElderry; Purchased for the library
  JeanLittleLibrary | May 18, 2018 |
This book seems to be getting good ratings, and I may be missing something, but it didn't make a lot of sense to me. There's something to be said for starting off a story in medias res, but A Properly Haunted Place has too much back story missing for effective world building. What, in particular, happens with Rosa's father? Has there been some failure on Rosa's part – or perhaps on her mother's part – to come to terms with his death? And do Rosa or her mother finally come to terms with her father's death? We aren't told, and we aren't really even given much detail about his death, which might better explain why Rosa or her mother have difficulty coming to terms with it, if in fact they do. The missing back story makes this novel difficult to make complete sense of. ( )
  CurrerBell | Oct 18, 2017 |
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher at ALA Annual 2017. This is an honest review.*

A Properly Unhaunted Place is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It’s a cute middle grade book where ghosts roam freely with people, and the living observe rituals to keep them happy and content. Rosa’s mother is an appeasement specialist — the best in the field — she can appease any ghost to keep them from causing chaos. However, after a family tragedy, she takes a job in Ingot, a town that is unhaunted. When Rosa explores the town on her own, she finds out that there is some serious otherworldly activity building outside Ingot, and there may be a sinister reason for why ghosts stay away.

This book is just downright enjoyable; it has everything I look for in a story. First, the characters are absolutely wonderful. Rosa is an independent girl who is well-read, practically an appeasement specialist herself, and who knows her own mind. Her foil is the other main character, Jasper, her first friend in Ingot. He tends to be shy and unsure of himself. It’s fun to see them both bring out different sides of each other; Rosa’s confidence helps Jasper overcome his natural hesitance, while Jasper’s cautious nature helps Rosa to think things through and not throw herself into a crazy situation.

Second, the story is perfect. The pacing is so well done, I just breezed through it and felt that the world was perfectly explained while also having the action move right along. I also love how the kids have to figure stuff out for themselves because the adults are so deep under the spell that has been placed on Ingot to keep hauntings away. There’s a lot of adventure, mixed with mystery, and fun paranormal stuff about how to appease ghosts and keep them happy. Along with that, the author takes the time to develop Jasper and Rosa by giving them internal conflicts to struggle with, which really fleshes out the story as a whole.

As a side note, both Rosa and Jasper are POC, which I really appreciated. The story itself doesn’t make a huge deal about it, but it’s great to be able to give my half-Mexican younger cousin a book that has a main character who has her last name and looks like her. Jasper is also half-black, and again, I love that it’s not the main point of the story, but it’s there and helps with being able to give a kid a book they can see themselves in.

Basically, this book is amazing. It’s a wonderful paranormal story where ghosts are a part of every day life — it almost has a magical realism feel with how well Alexander makes the world feel just like ours, but hauntings are a thing people deal with regularly. Definitely get it for the ghost story fanatic in your life, and try it out yourself. I can’t wait to get a copy for the children in my life — it’s fun, a little scary, and full of action and adventure.

Also posted on Purple People Readers. ( )
  sedelia | Aug 25, 2017 |
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"In a world full of ghosts, Rosa and Jasper live in the only unhaunted town--but must spring to action when they realize the ghosts are lying in wait to take the town back"--

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