Lauren DeStefano’s upcoming book The Curious Tale of the In-Between marks a departure for her. This is her first foray into Middle Grade. It contains many elements of her trademark style; a gentle handling of dark material, a series of emotional challenges for the main protagonist, and a quiet unpredictability that often chills and disturbs the reader. It is also completely charming.
Pram Bellamy is an orphan, living with her Aunts in an old home revamped as a care-facility for the elderly. She spends a lot of time reading and getting into her own adventures. One day, she meets a boy named Felix by the pond. Felix isn’t like Pram; he is less cautious and more open and approachable. He is also not alive.
Pram opens up to Felix, much to her Aunts’ worry. They fear that she is too old for an imaginary friend, yet they let her have her games in the hopes that she may grow out of them. Throughout this book, Pram explores friendships both with the living and with the dead. It isn’t until a young class mate named Clarence Blue befriends Pram that she is able to undertake her truest dream…to seek out the man who is her father.
DeStefano has created a character that many young women will identify with; a girl who is too smart for her age and too old in tandem. Pram’s journey is one of a child’s, but she discovers strength of will and her own pure heart along the way. Pram has a quiet grace that endears her to the reader. She also has her moments where she is quite witty, wry, and empathetic. I loved her in an instant.
The ghost aspect of this story is really well done. It could be a creepy book; the cover alone implies that it is. Believe me, the ghosts are the least frightening creatures in this book…it’s the humans that you have to watch out for (another DeStefano touch). The grief in this book is delicate and sensitively rendered, a beautiful ode to anyone who has lived and loved through crippling loss. This is a wonderful, shyly haunting book perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl. I loved it so much.
I can’t wait to see what is next for Pram Bellamy.
5 out of 5 stars.
* The Curious Tale of the In-Between releases September 1, 2015.
– Follow the Reader –