The Essence: A Ghost Story in Three Days by Vel Grande

four stars

The Essence: A Ghost Story in Three Days by Vel Grande is a collection of three mini-novellas. Each mini-novella covers one day during the long weekend in which teenager Alyssa is left in charge of her two little brothers, Bradley and Sean. Alyssa was expecting trouble – but not trouble in the form of ghosts and a magic wand. Unfortunately, that’s what she gets when she discovers that ‘the Buddies’ have left Sean with possession of what could be the key to the Nothing, home of the ghosts. Though Sean is convinced that the Buddies are friends, Alyssa isn’t so sure. The kids are in over their heads – but how do you explain to your parents there are ghosts in the house? Soon all three kids are drawn into a mystery they’re not sure how to solve, and they need to find the answer now, before their parents get home.

Filled with dynamic characters and a spooky mystery, The Essence is nearly a perfect ghost story for pre-teens and younger teens. While Grande’s habit of telling instead of showing may be off-putting to older readers, it’s perfect for younger readers. In addition, Bradley may be thirteen, but his actions perceive him as being younger – and therefore easier for younger readers to relate to. The Essence is great for readers who are ready to move up from beginning chapter books and enjoy mysteries, but are not quite ready for series like Goosebumps. And, unlike many other books, parents won’t need to worry about the content as, at its core, The Essence is just a wholesome ghost story with a little bit of humor.

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