Moving to the country to live in a stone mansion has all the makings of a nightmare for 14-year-old Cassie Wade. While visiting her future home for the first time, Cassie sees a face peering from an upstairs window, hears a terrifying scream, and shivers at the whispered warnings on a cold, clinging breeze -- elements that will keep readers eager for more. |
Jerri Garretson’s latest book, "The Secret of Whispering Springs," is a multi-faceted ghost story set in the prairie hills of present-day Kansas. Cassie’s parents purchase a grand but deserted old house, unaware that it includes an unsolved mystery, a dangerous intruder, and an invisible house guest. Cassie is forced to participate in the menacing stranger’s search for hidden treasure after he threatens to harm her brother, Ben, if she doesn’t cooperate.
The second frightening entity vying for Cassie’s attention is Annie, the ghost of a 14-year-old girl who has haunted the house for over a hundred years. After her death, she learned of a family secret. She cannot rest until she finds some answers and a letter promised to her by her dying mother. Annie is delighted to discover that she can communicate with Cassie and pleads for her help.
Garretson’s book goes beyond the usual parameters of a ghost story as she intertwines Annie’s mysterious family history, the tale of her loneliness and heartache, and the danger posed by a desperate man. Tension and fear mount as Cassie treads cautiously between the stranger’s demands and Annie’s requests. Unable to convince her parents of the danger, Cassie turns to her best friend, Jordan. The girls piece together answers, trying to help Annie while courageously thwarting the ominous intruder.
Garretson brings some personal experience to the story. "I live in an old stone house that was built in the 1880s, like the one Cassie’s family bought, though not nearly so grand. We often hear odd sounds and the back bedroom door frequently opens all by itself. We’ve never thought we had a ghost in our house, but the strange occurrences made me wonder what it would be like to live in a haunted house and why it might be haunted."
As a former children’s librarian, Garretson has a good grasp of what keeps young readers turning pages. She creates memorable characters and a gripping plot. The girls in "The Secret of Whispering Springs" depend on a deep bond of friendship to help them handle the story’s climactic moments. Even Annie has a 14-year-old’s inner struggles, such as jealousy and a longing for friendship.
Garretson says, "Like kids, I enjoy ghost stories. They asked me for a scary book. I think this one will send shivers down their spines."