In early-nineteenth century Scotland, sixteen-year-old Josie, an orphan, is sent to live with an aunt and uncle on the rocky, stormy northwest coast. Everything and everyone in her new surroundings, including her relatives, is sinister, threatening, and mysterious. She's told that Eli, the young man she's attracted to, is forbidden to her, but not why. Spirited, curious, and determined, Josie sets out to learn the village's secrets and discovers evil, fueled by heartless greed, as well as a ghostly presence eager for revenge. An author's note gives the historical inspiration for this story.
No stranger to ghost stories or historical tales, Bunting (The Pirate Captain's Daughter) returns with an eerie novel set in 1807 along the northern coast of Scotland. It centers on orphaned 16-year-old Josie Ferguson, who leaves her Edinburgh home to live for two years with her newly met, but unwelcoming and insensitive uncle and aunt. She befriends "brooding" Eli Stuart and his grandmother, only to learn that she cannot associate with or become attached to Eli, as he is mysteriously "forbidden." The town's inhabitants appear to be hiding a secret, and over the course of three days Josie seeks answers about Eli and the townspeople. Bunting skillfully drops clues about the cruel truth Josie will discover and cleverly incorporates supernatural elements into the historical aspects of the story about the intentional "wrecking" of ships for their bounty. Josie's whirlwind crush on Eli, her strict adherence to propriety, and lack of backbone when confronting the cagey townsfolk can wear thin. But keeping Josie naively unaware allows Bunting to strategically build suspense, and Josie's unstoppable curiosity will endear her to mystery-lovers. Ages 12 up.