THE CURSE ON SPECTACLE KEY by Chantel Acevedo

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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.

Frank Fernández was looking forward to finally spending a second year at the same school. As fifth grade ended, he had plans with his best friend and the prospect of a cool summer internship at the public library. But then his parents blow his plans to smithereens: they finished their renovation job early, so they will all be moving. Again.

The only consolation is that this time, the historic landmark they’ll be living in and fixing up won’t be a place they plan to sell. It will be their forever home, a lighthouse in the Florida Keys, close to Frank’s grandfather and more connected to his dad’s Cuban culture. But when the family arrives on Spectacle Key, things immediately start to go wrong. The local historical society is protesting their renovations, the dilapidated lighthouse itself seems to be trying to drive them away, Frank’s parents are always arguing, and to top it all off, Frank stumbles upon an old ruin inhabited by a scared, lonely girl who can’t remember who she is or where she came from and who no one but Frank can see. As strange happenings multiply, Frank and his invisible friend suspect that the key to breaking the Spectacle Key curse must be to discover the girl’s true identity–even if it means facing the unpleasant possibility that she might be a ghost.

Atmospheric and spooky, Acevedo’s speculative mystery focuses on uncomfortable truths in personal and community histories and the importance of confronting them to bring about healing and growth. Although creepy, the story stops short of being a truly terrifying horror, keeping friendship and hope in the forefront throughout. I’d recommend this one to fans of middle grade ghost stories and eerie mysteries. It could also suit for a middle grade book club.

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