By Alyson Noel
Published by Square Fish
Released on March 15th, 2011
Source- ARC from publisher for review
Age- Middle Grade
4 stars- A Great Read
Having solved the matter of the Radiant Boy, Riley, Buttercup, and Bodhi are enjoying a well-deserved vacation. When Riley comes across a vicious black dog, against Bodhi’s advice, she decides to cross him over. While following the dog, she runs into a young ghost named Rebecca. Despite Rebecca’s sweet appearance, Riley soon learns she’s not at all what she seems. As the daughter of a former plantation owner, she is furious about being murdered during a slave revolt in 1733. Mired in her own anger, Rebecca is lashing out by keeping the ghosts who died along with her trapped in their worst memories. Can Riley help Rebecca forgive and forget without losing herself to her own nightmarish memories? (quoted from Goodreads).
It's hard not to fall in love with Riley and think of her as kid sister. She's defiant, strong willed and is on a mission to help those who are in need of assistance in crossing over. With Bodhi and Buttercup by her side, Riley finds herself in her toughest mission yet, though it's not really mission since she's on vacation when she stumbles upon Rebecca.
Despite Bodhi's warning, Riley soon finds herself face to face with Rebecca, an evil spirit who takes delight in trapping the spirits of those who are responsible for her death. To make matters worse Bodhi and Buttercup are also trapped and Riley is the only one who can save them. Alyson takes a very serious topic and a horrible part of human history and delicately wraps it around the story of Rebecca and spirit Prince who is there to help Riley. We are shown glimpses of slavery and it's vicious cycle through the flash backs the Princes shares with Riley in order for her to understand Rebecca's world. Riley sees just how horrible the slaves were treated and the cycle of anger and hate that not only keep them trapped in Rebecca's world, but she learns why Rebecca is so angry and the manner in which she died. I also liked getting to know more about Brodhi through his flashback. In order for Riley to free them all, they must learn to love & forgive in order to be free to cross over.
Shimmer has a lot of elements to the story that make this an engaging read. I felt that Riley as a character matured more after seeing the unimaginable things that happened to the slaves on Virgin Islands during the turn of the century. It's heartbreaking, but a key element to the story and one I felt Alyson wrote well. I really liked the message Shimmer has. To love and forgive is to be free from hate and anger. I would recommend this for middle graders and fans of Alyson's Evermore series. I'm looking forward to reading Riley's third book, Dreamland when it's out this fall.