Madeleine “Lainie” Stanton is about to become a local celebrity. Born at precisely midnight at the millennium, she’s turning 12, and a TV station wants an interview. But when the reporter finds out Lainie’s great-grandmother Madeleine was hanged for murder, the story threatens to blow up into something quite different. Racing against time to prove her ancestor was framed, Lainie and her two best friends follow clues that seem to come in a shocking way—from Madeleine herself.
MADDIE’S GHOST is middle-grade fiction, contemporary psychological suspense, woven around a young girl’s race to solve a 1930s mystery involving her great-grandmother. A story with heart, humor, family, friends, and a twisty old house.
CAROL FISHER SALLER lives in Chicago. Honors for her children’s books include starred reviews, Bankstreet Best, Kirkus Best, and NCSS/CBC Notables.
“Spooky history meets bone-chilling mystery in this tightly written ghost story—meant for only the bravest readers.” - Kate Hannigan, author of the historical fantasy series Cape, Mask, and Boots
“Intricate plotting and convincing characterization. I quickly warmed to the Uncs and Grampa Jack. Lainie's elderly trio hits just the right balance: supportive but not intrusive. Lainie herself comes to life on the pages, a strong, flawed, believable girl.” - Paula Morrow, children's book editor and librarian
“I would have loved this as a kid. Mystery, ghosts, crushes, secret staircases, believable friendships, and librarians. A page-turner." – Louise Brueggemann, librarian
“A well-written book with a strong storyline. We never lose sight of what Lainie wants and how she goes about getting it. And I love how normal Lainie is.” Barbara Gregorich, author of Guide to Writing the Mystery Novel
Saller skillfully weaves history and present-day hints to create an irresistible narrative, rich with exciting clues, that readers will eagerly devour. A missing and mysterious blue journal, kept by Madeleine in the 1930s, promises to reveal the truth—if they can find it. Living in the old family Victorian provides Lainie with plenty of tantalizing hidden hiding spots, and readers will hold their breath as they wait to see if each hiding place is the one that will solve the mystery. Lainie’s great-uncles, Madeleine’s sons, provide clues, and one particularly juicy secret comes from their younger sister Cecily, kidnapped and renamed Gracie by her nanny during Madeleine’s trial.
Saller’s talent for thoroughly researching her subjects is on full display—readers will find themselves mentally traveling the Victorian family home right along with Lainie and her friends. Saller also doesn’t shy away from tough subjects, such as unethical drug companies, unjust execution after defending one’s own life, and unnecessary commitment to mental hospitals. Lainie and her friends are thoroughly believable and appealing, leading readers to follow them on this multi-decade-old mystery trail. This tantalizing tale will engage readers from the first page to the last.
Takeaway: This expertly plotted middle-grade thriller will enthrall readers.
Comparable Titles: Katherine Rundell, Paul Griffin.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
5 stars. “An exciting exploration of history, justice, and the long-lasting impact of the past on the present… Maddie's Ghost is a beautiful literary experience that effortlessly bridges the gap between multiple generations and timelines… A reminder of how perspective and history can shape our present… Targeted at younger audiences but appeals to all ages.”