Summary: Dee (short for Defiance) lives with her midwife grandmother in small town Ontario just after World War I has ended. Gifted with a second sight that involves seeing ghosts, Dee becomes involved in a murder investigation when the bones of a good friend are discovered on Price’s Mountain. Evil is haunting the town as more girls die, but Dee is the only one who can see it. Working against the growing suspicion of the townspeople, Dee tries to unravel the mystery of who is committing the murders, but when an obviously innocent man is arrested, Dee must step up her efforts. In the process she learns terrible truths about her absent mother, and the father she has never known.
Number of Pages: 273
Age Range: 13-15
Review: Barbara Haworth-Attard is a beautiful writer. I love how she makes the landscape of her book, Haunted, come alive with vivid descriptions and exquisite, vibrant word choices. It’s the perfect backdrop for equally vibrant and strong-willed characters Defiance and Gran, granddaughter and grandmother locked in a somewhat contentious relationship further aggravated by the absence of Defiance’s mother.
Gran is a holder of secrets and a believer in the old ways of doing things. A midwife who has delivered many of the townspeople, she is adjusting to the turn toward modern medicine and women preferring to have their babies delivered by doctors. Able to see the future at times, she uses her gift to help those she cares for.
Defiance has dreams of being a nurse, though her grandmother would prefer for her to be a midwife as well. She is a comforting presence to those in her Gran’s care, but because of their special gifts of having the second sight they seem to be targets whenever something goes wrong in the community.
Haunted is a well-paced, suspenseful mystery with paranormal elements, and clues that reveal who the killer is as well as other plot twists if the reader is willing to decipher them. But it’s also more than that. Reading Haworth-Attard’s book was like stepping into a community of people with complex motivations and relationships, just trying to do their best after the horrors of war and an influenza outbreak. Still, my favourite part was the development of Defiance and Gran’s relationship, and how they go from being related to being family.
As you can see from the memorable quotes that I chose, Clarence was my favourite character. He provided great insight to the experience of war and I felt that he and Defiance would have made a good match for each other.
It was a smooth, page-turning read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
“Morning mist blotted out the blaze of yellowed oaks and reddened maples on the lower slopes, though crimson patches appeared here and there where the sun’s warm rays had poked holes in the white curtain.” – from Haunted by Barbara Haworth-Attard, page 4
“‘That’s good of him. There’s not much work around for those soldiers coming home,’ Clarence said. The blue of his eyes deepened with anger. ‘People seem to resent the fact we came back at all. They resent that soldiers need jobs and help. I saw a newspaper the other day that called the war ‘an international unpleasantness.’ I guess that makes it easier for people. It’s easier to think someone lost a leg in an international unpleasantness rather than in a war. You don’t owe that someone quite so much when it’s an unpleasantness.; He spat out his bitterness.” – Clarence from Haunted by Barbara Haworth-Attard, page 88
“Clarence sat silent for a moment, his hands hanging between his knees, head bent. ‘Do you know who the wounded and the dying call for?’
Dee shook her head.
‘Their mothers. We were just boys over there. Playing at being men, yet when we were hurt or dying, we wanted out mothers. And the real men, the grown ones, the officers who planned the battles? They sat safe in their tents or their offices, behind the lines, and ordered those boys over the top to be gunned down. Those men didn’t see the death. They didn’t hear the boys crying for their mothers, so they just kept sending us out. Maybe if they’d heard . . .'” – Clarence from Haunted by Barbara Haworth-Attard, page 130
“He paused, and then said, ‘I wasn’t one of those, Dee. I wasn’t one of those who liked to kill. I had to in order to survive, but I didn’t like it. I’d get ill afterward. With each life I took, a little bit of me died, too, but I took comfort in that. I even welcomed those small deaths of mine. At least it let me know that I was still a decent person.’ Clarence shook his head and looked away.” – Clarence from Haunted by Barbara Haworth-Attard, page 174
Haunted by Barbara Haworth-Attard is published by HarperTrophy Canada, (2009).