School of the Dead by Avi

Published by HarperCollins 

Summary:  “The first time Uncle Charlie came to live with us he was alive.  The second time he came, he was dead.”  So begins this ghost story about Tony, who grows close to his eccentric Uncle Charlie shortly before his death.  Before he dies, Uncle Charlie encourages Tony’s family to move to San Francisco so Tony can attend the Penda School, where Uncle Charlie was a student.  After his death, they do so, and immediately, Tony suspects there’s something strange about the school.  For starters, he keeps seeing Uncle Charlie.  Then there’s the mysterious blond boy in his class that other kids don’t seem to see.  As Tony hears more stories about ghosts and Penda students who have gone missing, he begins to suspect he may be in great danger.  The people around him may or may not be who they say they are, and it’s difficult for Tony to know just who he can trust.  The suspense builds to a heart-stopping climax at the school’s Halloween party, when Tony has to single-handedly battle the ghosts for the life of the school…and himself.  288 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  A suspenseful ghost story with plenty of plot twists and turns.  Plenty of creepily evil characters without being super scary.

Cons:  It was difficult to believe that a school in which students have disappeared regularly for decades hadn’t triggered some sort of investigation.

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