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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > December 2018 > MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION Cursed and confused in newfoundland

MIDDLE-GRADE FICTION Cursed and confused in newfoundland

A young Torontonian discovers the wonder of the East Coast, as well as her family’s history of violence and death

The Ghost Road

Charis Cotter

Tundra Books, Ages 9–12

Ruth, the tween protagonist of Charis Cotter’s new novel, doesn’t know much about her family history. Her mother died suddenly when Ruth was only two years old, and her father doesn’t have a lot of information to share.

She also doesn’t know much about Newfoundland, where her mother’s family has lived for generations. When Ruth’s father tells her she’s going to be spending the summer with her Aunt Doll while he travels to Greece on a combined research trip and honeymoon (with Ruth’s new stepmother, Awful Gwen), Ruth goes out of her way to avoid learning anything about the province. As a result, the young Torontonian finds herself confused and overwhelmed upon her arrival “at the end of the road, in the middle of nowhere,” a.k.a. Buckle, Newfoundland. “It was 1978!” she explodes upon realizing only half the house is wired for electricity (and not the half that includes her room). “What kind of a place was Newfoundland anyway?”

Newfoundland, it turns out, is a world of wonder. Ruth tries fresh eggs and Carnation milk for the first time, and she meets her cousin Ruby, who is also staying for the summer. She explores the hills and meadows, delighting in her new-found freedom. “I’d never been alone in such a big place,” she says. It’s full of wildflowers and fairy paths, not to mention spooky lore and ghost roads.

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