The Haunted Purse

Young Adult - Paranormal
304 Pages
Reviewed on 09/29/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Haunted Purse is a young adult paranormal mystery novel written by Kimberly Baer. As they waited at the counter for Toni to make her purchase at the thrift store, Libby spied a flash of blue denim sticking out of a cardboard box on a counter. She was stunned to discover it was a jeans purse, complete with patch pockets on the back. The retro qualities of the purse were enticing, and she held her breath as she asked the clerk for the price. Libby couldn’t wait to transfer her stuff to her new purse, which was big, almost a tote bag, and that’s how Libby discovered her purse was very peculiar. The physics report she had stashed in it disappeared, something she discovered when she went to turn it in to her teacher. Frantically, Libby emptied out every compartment and pocket onto Ms. Eckhart’s desk and still no report. Then, at the end of class, Libby found the report, exactly where she had put it hours before. Ms. Eckhart agreed not to dock her grade but warned her not to try handing in something late again. Other things seemed to disappear in that purse as well. Toni suggested Libby return the errant and unpredictable purse to the thrift store, but Libby was reluctant to do so. It was her nicest possession, after all, and she had the oddest feeling the purse was trying to tell her something.

Kimberly Baer’s The Haunted Purse features a fifteen-year-old protagonist who’s had to grow up way too fast. Libby’s been effectively deserted by her mom who had her when she was only fourteen years old, and she’s been so careful to not let anyone know she’s been home alone for over a year now -- not even her best friend knows. Libby knows what the foster care system does with kids in her situation, and she knows how to take care of herself. Libby has plans. She’s academically gifted and is determined not to be a teenage mom like her mother and grandmother. Libby’s also curious and cannot resist the challenge of her new purse as it seems to be communicating with her. Who was the girl whose photograph appears in the purse one day, and what happened to her? Baer’s heroine is courageous and determined, and watching as she tackles the mystery of the missing girl from twenty years ago is grand fun. The plot is original, ramping up the suspense terrifically, and the characters are unforgettable. The Haunted Purse is most highly recommended.

Esther Archer Lakhani

The opening of this fantastic story is so much fun: Libby thinks it's her lucky day when she spots an old, large, multi-compartmented but ultra cool denim purse in a thrift store she frequents with her best friend, Toni. Libby first thinks the purse is just an awesome upgrade from her completely worn-out old purse, but she quickly learns that the denim purse is far beyond what anyone could expect a purse to be. It hides things, it gives things, it refuses to be ignored: in fact, the purse is doing its best to communicate, being inhabited by the ghost of a young girl rather like Libby, herself: smart, curious and in far more trouble than either of them fix.

Author Kimberly Baer pulls the reader in with this opening sparkling magical mood so effectively that I almost didn't notice the dark foretelling sifting and stirring around all the edges. There is regular teen angst, school dances, boy interest, cliques and clashes with friends. Ultimately, however, truly evil darkness takes over the light-hearted "fun" of the story, putting Libby's life directly on the line. She has learned she can't trust anyone, not even her best friend. And though she fights hard to make good decisions, still bad things happen. The Haunted Purse takes the reader into this tragic mysterious world without apology and, as the reader, I found myself holding my breath all the way to the end. Excellent storytelling, scary, sad, vivid and memorable. Final impression: I am reminded that the world - and the people living on it - are capable of being both better and far worse than I want to believe. This is a haunting tale that will stick with me for a long time. Highly recommend.