23 August 2020

Review || Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie


"This is a teeth-chattering, eyes bulging, shuddering-and-shaking, chills-at-the-back-of-your-neck ghost story. I loved it!"
--R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps series


For fans of Small Spaces comes a chilling ghost story about a malevolent spirit, an unlucky girl, and a haunting mystery that will tie the two together.

Claire has absolutely no interest in the paranormal. She’s a scientist, which is why she can’t think of anything worse than having to help out her dad on one of his ghost-themed Chicago bus tours. She thinks she’s made it through when she sees a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus. There’s something off about his presence, especially because when she checks at the end of the tour…he’s gone.

Claire tries to brush it off, she must be imagining things, letting her dad’s ghost stories get the best of her. But then the scratching starts. Voices whisper to her in the dark. The number 396 appears everywhere she turns. And the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.

Claire is being haunted. The boy from the bus wants something...and Claire needs to find out what before it’s too late.

   

Claire has zero interest in ghosts. She keeps her mind firmly in the science of things and science says don't exist. Matter of fact, she's horrified by the fact that her dad is into all things paranormal, has even published a book of ghost stories, and runs a haunted bus tour. Mortified, in fact. Family responsibility means that one night when her dad is short-handed, Claire has to step in and help on the dumb tour. She'd rather be hanging out with her best friend, but her best friend seems to have a new BFF so off Claire goes. While on the tour, she sees a little boy who vanishes and weird stuff she can't explain starts happening. 

Claire is no-nonsense when it comes to science, but still not sure of herself when it comes to relationships whether that's with family or her best friend. Rather than just asking when she feels left out by her friend, she ruminates on it internally and ends up making it more than it actually is. Her heartache and anguish are real and it's hard to put that into words at that age. Her feelings towards her father and his ghost business are legitimate as all kids start exerting their independence around that age and embarrassment of your parents comes with the territory.
 
The ghost part of Scritch Scratch is terrifying: scratching inside the walls, flooding that feels real but there's no evidence of later, voices, and the number 396 appearing in marker on the shower wall—amongst other places.  Claire and her brother have to sleuth to find out just who the boy is and why he followed Claire home. It's bone-chilling and alarming and so good!

Scritch Scratch is just the type of book I would have loved as a kid. The characters are well written, the relationships feel genuine and the spooks are frightening.  It might be a bit scary for younger readers at first but it all works out in the end. Claire learns a lot about herself and the world around her and shows great character growth and maturity. There's also a historical basis to the haunting which gave it real-world validity and just added an extra layer to it. This is definitely a story to read way past your bedtime under the covers with a flashlight. Eerie and hair-raising with heart!