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Are Shadow, the grinning black cat, and Annabelle Coffinfinder, guardian of the crystal chandelier, the only lingering spirits in Mansion House, or are there more? When Kati Danson discovers her power of clairaudience, she decides to find out.
Kati Danson’s family spends every summer at Piney Lake, Michigan, but her parents have divorced, and her father is staying in their cabin with his new family. The only place available is a three-story house that belonged to Mr. Coffinfinder, a recluse who recently died. Due to a belief it’s haunted, the house is for sale, cheap, and Kati’s mom wants to turn it into a bed and breakfast. Fifteen-year-old Kati doesn’t want to live at Piney Lake year around, and she’s sure she’ll be a social outcast living in “weird Coffy’s house.”
Kati doesn’t believe in ghosts but strange things happen, and for some reason, they’re stranger for her than other people. When a crystal falls from the chandelier, others hear a ping and Kati hears a crash, and when a black cat and an old-fashioned doll talk to her and she can converse with them, she thinks she’s going crazy.
However, when Zack, a super-cute boy who’s interested in the occult, moves into the B&B with his dad, he tells her she must be clairaudient—able to hear sounds others can’t, and he thinks she might be able to contact his mother who died under mysterious circumstances.
Midnight stretched out on the carpet in sunlight from the window, wondering how many lives a cat got the second time around. If someone didn’t feed him, this one would end soon. The door to the adjoining bathroom was left ajar or he’d have died of thirst. And he’d been fortunate…make that extremely clever…to avoid capture, but from his hiding place under the bed, he’d heard the invaders slamming shut the bedroom doors and knew he was trapped.
What was taking Wendell so long to come to his rescue? Was he coming?
Considering how many cats had walked the halls of Mansion House over the years, it was unlikely there were any mice left. But he kept hoping. Snarling, Midnight licked his chops.
Just what we needed—a June storm to herald our arrival at a hundred-year-old haunted house. Thunder rumbled through the village of Piney Lake, shaking our four-year-old van. Immediately following, lightning flashed, and Mom tightened her white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel.
“This has to be a bad omen,” I muttered, shivering within the lifesaving (I hoped) confines of my shoulder harness.
Pounding rain had formed ruts in the gravel road, and we bounced and splashed along treacherously. Water stood in the gutters and spilled over onto the sidewalks of the dozen or so buildings in the downtown business district.
We’d driven north for three hours from our Indiana home along sun-dappled roads, and the moment we reached our destination, bingo! The gods of bad weather were trying to tell us what I’d known all along. We were headed for disaster.
Mom rounded a corner, turned sharply into an uphill driveway, and I shuddered as we sloshed to a stop beside Wendell Coffinfinder’s house. I couldn’t bear to think of Mansion House as ours, and it wouldn’t be if I had my way. But my mother had won the first round and I was condemned to two months of humiliation, living in a house everyone who ever summered here knew as Coffy’s haunted house.
I’m Kati Danson and my mother, Diane, has acted weird ever since Dad asked for a divorce last fall, but it wasn’t until last Friday, June 4, the day school let out for the summer, that I knew she’d gone totally mad.
I walked home that day, feeling so totally stoked that if I were five instead of fifteen, I’d have skipped, chanting, “School’s out, school’s out, teacher let the fools out.” I’m no fool, but I’m not an A student either, and knowing Mom and I would soon head to our cozy rental in Piney Lake, Michigan, made the day perfect.
Vacation would be different this year with just the two of us, but my mother is young, fun, and more like my sister than a parent. Dashing up the steps in my size nine Nikes, I burst through the door of our ranch-style home, expecting Mom to dance me around in our celebration ritual, both of us giggling like grade school girls. Afterward, we’d go out for pizza the way we always did to celebrate something special.
But she looked way too serious when she took me by the hand, led me to the couch, and told me to sit down. “We have to talk, Kati.”
The last time she said that, she told me that hers and Dad’s marriage was over, and life would change. I didn’t realize that meant he had a girlfriend and they were going to have a baby.
Summer was supposed to be great. Every year they went to the same little cabin at Piney Lake in Michigan—all her friends stayed there for the summer, so she had plenty of friends, and the lake was great for swimming and fishing. But this year everything in Kati Danson’s life was different. Her father and mother had gotten a divorce, he’d had an affair, and was now married to that woman, Sabrina, and they had a little baby boy. And they rented the cabin, leaving Kati and her mom, Diane, no where to stay. Except, the man who owned the haunted old mansion at the lake, Mr. Wendel Coffinfinder, just died. And her mother rented the mansion for the summer. Kati was horrified, not only at the thought of spending the summer in the haunted mansion, but also at what her friends, Dawn and Storm, would think. Weird things do start to happen almost right away—crystals falling from the chandelier in the dining room, and a strange cat that hiding in her room and starts following her everywhere. On the bright side, a new boy named Zach has come to Piney Lake, and he’s renting a room in the mansion, so despite the eeriness of the house, she has someone, someone cute and nice, to share it with. But when Kati starts hearing spirits, her whole summer is dragged into the world of the mysterious.
Mystic Mansion is a fun, teenage, summer adventure full of fun and mystery. The characters in the story are emotional and easy to connect to, the travails in their lives easy to associate with—social awkwardness, teenage love, the mix of emotions stirred up for children whose parents get divorced. There’s something for everyone in this story, plus the mysterious haunting of the Coffinfinder Mansion. And, as with most teenage fiction, the ending is happy and fulfilling.
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