“An excellent addition to middle grade shelves, with a differently-abled main character that readers will root for.” —School Library Journal
“Vaught makes Max the brash, bold star of the book, exchanging stereotypes and sympathy cards for a well-drawn character whose disability is part of who she is but not her complete identity; hopefully Max will roll ahead as the advance guard of a literary cadre.” —BCCB
A Parents’ Choice Recommended Book
It’s going to take more than a knack for electronics and a supercharged wheelchair for twelve-year-old Max to investigate a haunted mansion in Edgar Award–winning author Susan Vaught’s latest middle grade mystery.
Max has always been a whiz with electronics (just take a look at her turbo-charged wheelchair). But when a hacker starts a slanderous Facebook page for her grandpa, Max isn’t sure she has the skills to take him down. The messages grow increasingly sinister, and Max fears that this is more than just a bad joke. Here’s the thing: Max has grown up in the shadow of Thornwood Manor, an abandoned mansion that is rumored to be haunted by its original owner, Hargrove Thornwood. It is said that his ghost may be biding his time until he can exact revenge on the town of Blue Creek. Why? Well, it’s complicated. To call him a jerk would be an understatement. When the hacking escalates, suddenly it looks to Max like this could really be Thornwood’s Revenge. If it is, these messages are just the beginning—and the town could be in danger.
Maxine "Max" Brennan is upset when a hacker impersonates her grandfather Toppy, the police chief of Blue Creek, Tenn., and spreads malicious lies via social media. Invoking Thornwood's Revenge, a local legend tied to a long-dead town patriarch and a crumbling mansion, the hacker aims to take down Toppy and the mayor, wreaking havoc along the way. As the hacker's attacks escalate, Max uses her budding investigative skills and pure force of will to find the culprit. The return of her estranged mother, who distanced herself after a car accident left Max in a wheelchair, highlights a softer, less-sure side of the scientifically minded and driven protagonist. Vaught (Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry) creates a close, strong relationship between granddaughter and grandfather; Toppy seeks to protect Max, but he also acknowledges her need to push boundaries and the fact that her wheelchair is an extension of her body and hers to control. Impulsive, quick to anger, loyal, and self-aware, Max is a memorable character who refuses to give in to circumstances or assumptions. Ages 8 12.