By Jenny Blackford
Cover and internal illustrations by Fiona McDonald
Publication date: October 2019
About the book:
The girls at Maddy’s new school look through her as if she is invisible, and say mean things behind her back. The only person who has tried to talk to her is Gareth, who is new too. And he’s good at maths. Talking to him would mean social death. But then strange things happen in old inner-city terrace house Maddy’s family has moved into. She hears spooky noises on the stairs and sees strange faces in the mirror – first a ghastly white face, then a girl in a weird old-fashioned dress. They’re ghosts! The house is haunted!
The girl in the mirror – Clarissa – starts to talk to Maddy. Maddy’s bedroom was Clarissa’s room back in the 1890s, and it’s the same mirror on the wall – though Clarissa is a Young Lady, so she has to call it a Looking Glass. The spook on the stairs is Clarissa’s brother Bertie, who died of whooping cough when he was six years old. Clarissa and Maddy get on really well – but then Clarissa disappears, and Maddy has strange visions of a huge, evil thing like a giant spider looming over her.
Maddy’s baby brother gets seriously ill with whooping cough. Even in the hospital, the doctors are helpless.
Meanwhile, back in the 1890s, the girl in the mirror is having problems of her own. Clarissa’s mother has been in a decline since Clarissa’s poisonous Aunt Lily was widowed, and she moved into their house. Aunt Lily makes a Strengthening Tonic for Mother every week, from plants in the garden. But what if the Tonic that Aunt Lily makes for Clarissa’s mother is actually making her sicker? What if she wants to get Clarissa’s mother out of the way forever? The two girls have to use all their intelligence and verve to fight against Aunt Lily’s plots, each in her own time, with help from Clarissa’s ghostly brother Bertie—but will they succeed?
An enthralling, original middle grade novel by award-winning poet and short-story writer Jenny Blackford.
Jenny Blackford writes poems and stories for people of all ages, usually with a tinge of myth and legend, ancient history, science, or deep time. Over 30 of her short stories and over 50 of her poems have appeared in Australian and international anthologies and journals including Westerly, Australian Poetry Journal, The Pedestal Magazine, Strange Horizons and Going Down Swinging.
She loves to write for kids as well as adults. Her poems and stories for kids have been published in the School Magazine, Our Home is Dirt by Sea: Australian Poetry for Australian Kids, Stories for Nine Year Olds and other wonderful places. Kids aged 11 plus should enjoy her poetry books The Loyalty of Chickens and The Duties of a Cat, both published by Pitt Street Poetry, as well as her YA novel set in Ancient Greece, The Priestess and the Slave, published by Hadley Rille Books.
Jenny’s most recent poetry prizes are first place in the NEWC Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Poetry 2017 and first place in the Humorous Verse section of the Henry Lawson Awards 2017. She won two prizes in the Scarlet Stiletto Short Story Awards 2016 for a murder mystery set in classical Delphi, with water nymphs. In 2014 she was awarded third in the prestigious ACU Prize for Literature 2014.
Jenny’s degree was in Classics (Greek and Latin) at the University of Newcastle, but she took a twenty-year detour into large mainframe computer networking before she returned to her first love, writing.
Fiona McDonald is an illustrator, author and doll-maker with over 12 books published, including acclaimed picture books, a graphic novel, and non-fiction books. She is also half of the duo who write under the name of Phoebe McArthur, whose first book, the illustrated chapterbook Lucy Newton, Little Witch(published by Christmas Press) was shortlisted for the 2019 Speech Pathology Awards.