Middle Grade Mystery
Date Published: 3/9/21
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
The ghost haunting Wisteria Gardens Antiques appears to be a charming and loving mother who can’t stand the thought of being separated from her son.
But appearances can be deceiving.
The Ghosties are moved by her expression of devotion, until they discover the truth. Her attachment to the real world has nothing to do with love.
As the teen ghost hunters struggle with the case, Althea’s determination to stay threatens their very lives. Will Pekin, Scout, and Amber convince the ghost to move on before it’s too late?
Excerpt from The Problem at Wisteria Gardens
“Uh-oh,” Amber said.
“I know,” Pekin said. “I think she’s up to something.”
“Let’s split up and see if we can find her,” Scout said, and the three of them headed for different areas of the shop.
Before they separated, Pekin handed each of them a crystal for whatever protection the stones could provide against the ghost of Althea Cooley.
Despite the chill, nothing seemed out of place, and no ghostly voice addressed them. None of the kids felt reassured by this, however, knowing Althea was toying with them.
After his search of the shop turned up no sign of the ghost, Scout said loudly, “You might as well come out, Althea. Matt’s gone and he’s not coming back. You have to deal with us now.”
Oh, I’m sooo scared, the ghost responded.
Ignoring the voice, Pekin continued her sweep of the shop, sticking her head in the supply room. When she turned back toward the interior, she heard an odd swishing sound, and from around a corner marched half-a-dozen dolls with painted porcelain faces and frilly party dresses, each about two feet tall.
Her hand flew to her mouth in alarm, and she called out for her friends. In an instant, Scout was at her side with Amber close behind. They all stared in wide-eyed shock at the approaching doll army, and Althea’s laughter boomed around them.
The dolls formed themselves into a semicircle around the kids, cutting off any escape route. Scout motioned Pekin and Amber into the supply room and turned back to face the scary toys. Glancing over his shoulder at the girls with an encouraging smile, looking braver than he felt, he squared his shoulders and planted his feet, ready to meet the silent troop. For a moment, it appeared they were in a standoff until the dolls’ eyes started blinking and their jaws clacked open and closed exposing teeth that were pointed and menacing, definitely not innocent doll teeth. And they were going num num num num. Pekin shrieked and clutched Amber’s arm as the dolls moved toward them, still going num num num num.
“What are they?” Amber whined, covering her ears and huddling against Pekin.
His back to Pekin and Amber, Scout spread his arms out to protect them. One of the dolls rushed forward, an odd, tinny battle cry emanating from it. Both girls screamed as the doll surged toward Scout and flew into the air in front of him, its arms reaching for his face. Scout raised his hands instinctively and batted it away. The doll fell in a heap on the floor in a cloud of taffeta and ribbons. He was speechless for a moment, and suddenly he laughed. “Really, Althea? Dolls?”
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