Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie – Book Details
TITLE – Scritch Scratch
AUTHOR – Lindsay Currie
CATEGORY/GENRE – middle grade, fantasy, paranormal, horror
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2020
PAGE COUNT – 277
MY RATING – 4.5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 3.96 of 5
A huge thank you to Sourcebooks Young Readers and Edelweiss+ for providing me with an ARC of Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie in exchange for an honest review.
What It Is About
This isn’t how I imagined the stops on Dad’s tour would be at all. I figured I’d be following him through a graveyard while he popped out from behind gravestones to scare people or something. This is… I don’t know, more sinister. More real. I don’t like it.
Claire doesn’t believe in ghosts and her worst nightmare is that the kids at school will find out about her dad’s ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. To make things worse, one night she needs to help with the tour. But as long as no one she knows sees her, she’ll survive.
Or will she? Because, as the tour is nearing its end, Claire spots a little boy with sad eyes at the back of the bus. Something is off about him, but he disappears before Claire has a chance to take a better look.
But, nothing is the same for Claire after that tour. Suddenly she starts hearing whispers and screeching in the walls and seeing things that couldn’t possibly be true. Have her father’s ghost stories finally got the better of her? Or is there something truly paranormal behind everything?
Claire needs to figure it out, and fast.
Because the boy from the bus clearly has a mission. And he isn’t going anywhere until Claire helps him get what he wants.
Themes and vibes:
- a middle grade ghost story
- spooky but not too scary
- great family and friendships vibes
- coming of age
- perfect fall read
Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie – My Review
I remember him saying that ghost legends often come from something called unavenged deaths, meaning deaths that shouldn’t have happened but that no one ever paid the price for. […] No wonder this alley has such a scary name. It earned it.
Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie is one of those books I add every year to my fall TBR and somehow never get to them. I missed it this October too, but I didn’t want to wait a whole another year. Because this book sounded to me like it might be just my kind of thing.
And for the most part – I wasn’t wrong.
I love ghost stories and children horrors, and putting the two together is a sure way to make me pick up a book. Ever since I read Currie’s The Girl in White in September and did Q&A with the author, I knew I wanted to read everything else she wrote. And I knew I wanted to start with Scritch Scratch.
Because Scritch Scratch was on my radar even long before that. And because I’ve found it on so many people’s recommendation lists of best autumnal reads. I wanted to see for myself what all of them were talking about.
A soft groan starts up somewhere deep in the floor. It’s low and disturbing. It’s one of those sounds that my mom would say is just “the house settling ,” but I know what Dad would say. Houses don’t settle. Ghosts do.
What got me right out of the gate was how immersing and atmospheric this book was. As I mentioned, I love ghost stories, and many of them come with an eerie, foreboding sense to them. But not many make me feel like I’m right there with the protagonist like this one did.
There was something about Currie’s writing… something that reminded me of wandering around in the dark as a kid (I grew up in a very safe neighborhood :)). Nothing remotely sinister or spooky ever happened, but I loved to pretend.
This book brought back those feelings.
And I liked Claire as a protagonist. She is a twelve year old science girl at heart who wants nothing to do with her dad’s ghost-themed bus tours. The fact that she likes things she can count and explain made her a perfect MC for this particular story, pushing her out of her comfort zone in more than one way.
Doesn’t he understand that his stupid ghost tour bus is terrible for me? Middle school is all about blending in, but he’s doing his best to make me stick out.
Claire loves her family to no end, but that doesn’t stop her from sometimes feeling embarrassed by her parent’s business. She can only hope the kids at school won’t find out about it. She also worries her best friend might like the new girl more. And she is falling in love for the first time.
All of this made Claire incredibly relatable. It’s what made this story so immersing. When weird, unexplainable things start happening around her, I could almost picture myself in her shoes.
And there’s a lot of creepy things suddenly going on, from whispers and screeching sounds in the night, the number 396 appearing everywhere, flooded drawers, all the way to hallucinations of stormy weather and objects moving on their own.
It was all mildly spooky and very entertaining. But what got me the most was the feeling of isolation and how Claire felt she couldn’t confide in people around her. That was one of the most terrifying aspects of the whole situation.
Being grounded is miserable, but being Dad’s newest book topic would be worse. With my luck, he’d offer the ghost boy our guest room instead of helping us get rid of him.
But this book wouldn’t be what it is without many warm, heartfelt moments of fighting for true friendships, overcoming differences and sticking together through the terrifying unknown. All those instances balanced the scary moments well and turned this ghostly middle grade novel into a truly enjoyable experience.
My favorite part of Scritch Scratch was probably Claire’s relationship with her brother Sam. The I-love-you-but-I-don’t-necessarily-always-like-you attitude mixed with when-you-really-need-me-I’ll-be-there-at-all-costs felt a lot like my own relationship with my siblings.
One last thing that surprised me was the fact that the ghost and the places the bus tour visited weren’t some invented spooky places but actual Chicago legends. Currie rooted her story in truth and history and that way gave it weight and meaning.
I didn’t expect that. Only after I finished the book, I googled the massive death places mentioned in the book and realized they were genuine. That humbles you quickly.
Look for the story history doesn’t tell, because that might be the one that matters.