CAROL FISHER SALLER lives in Chicago. Honors for her children’s books include starred reviews, Bankstreet Best, Kirkus Best, and NCSS/CBC Notables.
Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha for Readers' Favorite
Maddie's Ghost by Carol Fisher Saller is a mystery novel that navigates two timelines: one set in the present day and the other in the 1930s. The protagonist, Lainie Stanton, is called for a TV interview when questions about her great-grandmother Madeleine's public execution threaten her safety and family reputation. Lainie sets on a journey to uncover family secrets, leading to an exciting exploration of history, justice, and the long-lasting impact of the past on the present.
Maddie's Ghost is a beautiful literary experience that effortlessly bridges the gap between multiple generations and timelines to create a compelling narrative. The writing style fits perfectly. Saller has used narrative techniques like alternating timelines and journal entries and created a multilayered plot that instantly grabbed my attention and kept me engaged. The pacing and tone are well-balanced. There are also undertones of paranormal activity, with Lainie experiencing nightmares, hallucinations, and visions, which add a layer of suspense and tension. The descriptions of periods and places were beautiful and made for an immersive experience. I enjoyed reading via Lainie's perspective. The characters are multi-dimensional and relatable. Saller effectively captured the complexities of teenage friendships and relationships in her portrayal of Lainie's relationships with her friends Elle, Violet, and Seth.
The bond between Lainie and her family was beautiful. The author did an excellent job at character development; each member of the Stanton family undergoes personal growth. Their trust and determination to uncover the truth about Madeleine form the emotional core, making it easy to invest in their journey. Looking back into the past and unfolding the events that led to Madeleine's execution serves as a reminder of how perspective and history can shape our present. Overall, Maddie's Ghost by Carol Fisher Saller blends mystery, family drama, and historical narrative. The story is targeted at younger audiences but appeals to all ages. I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys mysteries that navigate different periods.