Thank you Edelweiss and HarperTeen for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: If I could have a fiddle made of Daddy’s bones, I’d play it. I’d learn all the secrets he kept.
Shady Grove inherited her father’s ability to call ghosts from the grave with his fiddle, but she also knows the fiddle’s tunes bring nothing but trouble and darkness.
But when her brother is accused of murder, she can’t let the dead keep their secrets.
In order to clear his name, she’s going to have to make those ghosts sing. (Amazon)
I came across Ghost Wood Song and I was soon lost. I am absolutely and easily smitten by a pretty cover, it will turn my head every single time, and this is one gorgeous cover. How could I resist finding out more about the book?
But then... Wait now, this is a Gothic story with a Southern twist? Well, I'm sold.
Only a few chapters into this novel, and I was hooked. At the center of this tale is Shady Grove (a name I adored from the get-go), whose father has died a few years prior; she now seeks his special fiddle after her brother gets into enough trouble to warrant her need to become involved. This fiddle, she believes, holds the answer to helping her older sibling, especially since it raised ghosts for her daddy until the day he himself passed from this world.
That alone should be interesting, but what I most loved about this book—and what drew me in time and time again—was how well Erica Waters allows the reader to become lost in the haunting and rural setting. With its surrounding forests, lakes and old houses, creeping vegetation and nearby whispers, you see ghosts at every corner. It was so easy to sink into the story and follow along with Shady and her friends while she raised ghosts and fought to keep herself alive.
Unfortunately, I think it's those same characters who made my love at first sight falter a few times. It's not that they're a weak cast. They're charming. Shady is smart and kind, protective and easy of manner unless you speak ill or go after someone she loves. But the rest kept mostly to the surface. It was as if, lest they were needed to make a point to the story, they were tucked away in the background. Even during scenes in which there were more than two characters present, it was not rare to notice that besides the two who were mainly in conversation, the others would be forgotten in narrative. It's not a huge detriment to the story, and alongside Shady, Frank and Jesse are intriguing because they're part of the big mystery behind everything going on. But I wanted the others to have a pull from me as well.
The pacing is fast, and you don't have much time to become bored with any goings on. There were some scenes that lacked the nostalgia and eerie notes that echoed throughout, which pulled away from total immersion on and off. Don't get me wrong, not every single instance needed to be full of spirits, and cold spots, and scary footsteps in the middle of the night. Yet, now and again, the dreary atmosphere with which the novel began, would slip before catching itself right before going over completely. Once that happened, it wasn't difficult to get sucked back in.
Ghost Wood Song is a charming story despite the sadness of its premise. The family bond portrayed is strong, and hopeful—it's inspiring. There are a few darkly atmospheric moments that are no less meaningful for being expected, and the inclusion of music added a layer that was as gripping as I expected it to be. It certainly prompted me to learn some new music that I likely wouldn't have come across on my own.
That's always a great day: when a book offers you a novel thing to enjoy in life.