Title: A Curious Tale of the In-Between (Pram #1)
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Pram Bellamy is special—she can talk to ghosts. She doesn't have too many friends amongst the living, but that's all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.
Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram's power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.
New York Times bestselling author Lauren DeStefano is beloved by critics and readers alike, and her middle grade debut is lyrical, evocative and not to be missed.
When I received A Curious Tale of the In-Between, I knew that I would be reading a beautifully written book. I've read DeStefano's Wither, and I follow her on Facebook, reading the informal writing that she shares there. I was not disappointed. I did find, however, that the book was not something that I would ever expect from a middle grade novel because she truly wrote it for its target audience and not the "standard".
A Curious Tale of the In-Between is dark, but I think that will appeal to preteens and younger teenagers. The book opens with Pram's mother having hung herself and doctors trying to revive Pram after suffocating in her womb. That pretty much sets the tone for the novel. Pram is able to see and speak to ghosts thereafter, and that ability came with its own issues. She's faced with her aunts who raise her thinking she's "touched" (I don't want to say crazy), strangers thinking there is something wrong with her, and others wanting to exploit her talents. And when Pram decides she wants to find her long-lost father, well, DeStefano doesn't pull very many punches of truth.
I'm not sure which decade A Curious Tale of the In-Between was set in (I didn't make a note, and I've already forgotten what I've suspected), and it was never told. However, the book is so well-written that just the implications of the settings described to me that it was set in the past. And if not, kudos to you, Ms. DeStefano, for making me think I was being taken back in time. Maybe it was just the air of very old things because Pram had this old soul, and she was already so grown up at such a young age. (Yet she is naive enough that readers can sympathize with her.)
A Curious Tale of the In-Between is a book that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, but I do want to caution parents and teachers about the dark aspects of the novel. I personally wouldn't have any issue with my own child reading it, but not everyone is as lenient with their baby's reading material. Better yet, I think each of you should read it first to make that decision. It's worth the time.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.