Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book Review: Grave Images

Grave ImagesAuthor: Jenny Goebel
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Press

A stylish debut mystery with the perfect balance of sweetness and scares!

Thirteen-year-old Bernie's summer is looking pretty grim. It's hard to make friends when your family runs a monument company, and your backyard is littered with tombstones. It's even harder when your mother suddenly refuses to leave her room . . .

To make matters worse, her father has just hired a new artist to engrave the headstones--the creepy Mr. Stein. Bernie has a bad feeling about him right from the start, and after snooping around his cottage, she discovers an engraved portrait of their neighbor . . . a woman who promptly dies the next day. And it's not just a weird coincidence. The pattern continues, and Bernie realizes that Mr. Stein has begun engraving headstones before people die, which forces Bernie to ask a horrifying question: Is Mr. Stein predicting the deaths . . . or causing them?

The reason I never act saintly is ‘cause I’ve got too much want in my heart. Mama was cursed with a wanting heart, too. That’s why hers is broken now.

You see, want always seems to drag a heartache right along with it. It’s also something that can get you darn near dead when it’s the wrong thing you’re wanting after.

Mimi always says you can’t trust an old person with a smooth face any more than you can trust a skinny chef.

If what she says is true, the creases on her face are a road map of a life well spent.

Bernie’s family runs a monument company, but her father has not been himself after the death of her own father. Her mother is not much better off; she is unable to get out of bed most days, and is just depressed overall. However strange and saddened Bernie’s family might be, her friend, Michael, still loves coming around and hanging out with Bernie. When Bernie’s father hires new help, Mr. Abbott Stein, and Bernie finds him a little bit creepy and needs to figure out what exactly it is, so she enlists the help of her friend Michael. Mr. Stein is a beautiful artist and has the most intricate carvings on his monuments, but Bernie starts to notice an odd pattern. Mr. Stein carves the names of people into a monument before they are actually dead. This isn’t the best part. After the name has been carved, the person always dies!

I actually read this shortly after Halloween, and have been waiting for the opportune time to write my review. This was the perfect Halloween read, full of suspense and well-developed creepy characters. Mr. Stein was the most well-written character of all. I was immediately entranced by his strangeness and couldn’t find out his secrets soon enough. The cover art is mysterious and leads readers into a greater understanding of the book, its setting, and conflicts.

I like to separate all the adult and young adult books I read with a little middle grade literature every once in a while. Jenny Goebel did a wonderful job of taking some pretty big issues that people deal with every day and putting them into terms that a younger child could understand. The book was creepy, but not creepy enough for someone of that age, and I truly believe this would be a book that parents would enjoy reading with their children as well!

***A copy of this book was sent to me by the publishers at Scholastic Press in exchange for my honest review***

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