The Folcroft Ghosts Darcy Coates, 2017. YA
Grandparents provide most of the scares in this new young adult thriller. That may sound a little on the tame side, but Coates does a respectable job instilling readers’ unease with the elderly. Which, in this case, is a good thing.
When a freak car accident puts their mother in a coma, teen blogger Tara and her bookish younger brother Kyle find themselves staying with grandparents they’ve never met.
Everything is initially picture perfect. Grandmother May is overjoyed to see them and bakes up a storm. Grandfather Peter is on the gruff but kindly side. What could go wrong?
There is the little problem that there’s no cell signal out in the country – so May kindly takes the kids’ cell phones to keep them safe. And of course, there’s no internet out there, either. There is a pier by the lake that looks fun – until they discover that Peter’s young sister drowned there. Mysteriously locked rooms and strange apparitions in the night make Tara and Kyle realize the house is definitely haunted. But ghosts aren’t the scariest things roaming about. Tara and Kyle begin to suspect that their grandparents aren’t quite what they seem to be.
The Folcroft Ghosts is a solid ghost story. While it initially seems to echo M. Night Shyamalan’s film The Visit (2015), it takes its own unique turn at the denouement.
Coates does a nice job mirroring the emotional isolation of the kids – Tara only has internet friends, Kyle’s friends are books, and now their mother is completely out of reach – with the physically isolated and spooky atmosphere of the house. Many upper elementary and middle school readers will also relate to the siblings’ single-parent family stress. Although chilling discoveries at the finale may stretch our willing suspension of disbelief a little too far, The Folcroft Ghosts offers young readers an accessible, satisfying ghost story with enough spookiness & surprises to keep them entertained to the end.