Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
This one gets a nostalgia boost, in all honesty. I remember reading it when I was younger and loving it, back in my time-travel phase. I had forgotten that this story is presented as you would a campfire ghost story, by claiming that it happened to someone you know – Avi claims a kid on one of his school visits pulled him aside to tell him this one. 12-year-old Kenny Huldorf had just moved to Providence, RI, from California and was still adjusting to all the colonial history in New England when he discovers his new house is haunted. The ghost was a slave boy who used to live there and who was murdered, though the official newspaper report says he appeared to have committed suicide. Kenny gets swept up in helping avenge Caleb’s murder, but there’s a twist in the story that I had forgotten and almost made me gasp out loud! It’s very clever, even though some of the storytelling is a bit sloppy (Kenny talks a bit like an adult most of the time, there are some very 1980’s conventions with the narration and dialogue, etc), but after all, Avi had been writing for over 10 years at the time it was published. Overall a solid time-travel story with a good twist even nearly 30 years later, and a quick read. Might be good for a high-interest, low-level reader as it’s short, compelling, and lots of space so not too intimidating-looking.