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August 17, 2023

Grave Mistakes by Kitty Curran ~ a Review

by MK French

graphical representation for the review of middle grades mystery Grave Mistakes by Kitty Curran

Molly Dade is trying to hide a secret from the rest of her little Maine community. Her family was living in a house reportedly haunted and next to the cemetery, but then her mother and twin brother were killed in an accident. Only, her mother is a ghost and her brother is a poltergeist. Molly’s younger sister is a zombie. While she's trying to keep it a secret, she has a violin audition coming up that her family wants to see. Her father's new assistant at the cemetery seems to know the Dade family secret, and the explosion that killed her mother and brother might not have been an accident. Someone might be after the Dade family—but who? And why?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of middle grades mystery novel Grave Mistakes by Kitty Curran
August 2023; Melissa de la Cruz Studio; 978-1368083478
ebook, print (288 pages); middle grades mystery

Grave Mistakes
 is a middle-grade book that feels like it's part of a series because it references past events that would have been so much fun to read about. Molly has a hard time with middle school, as she has a best friend she's keeping secrets from, and the perfect girl in her class that seems ready to show her up at every moment. It's stressful and anxiety-provoking, leading her to believe that she's cursed, especially when odd things keep happening. While her brother is a poltergeist now, he's not the one making light bulbs explode or lights flicker. In a town as haunted as theirs is, with a history of witch hunts and curses, Molly is quick to believe she's cursed and must hunt down who cursed her in order to get rid of it.

I do notice that Molly's tunnel vision, prickling feelings, and shortness of breath happen whenever she's stressed. Kids with anxiety or panic attacks will relate to these episodes, and to how real she feels when worrying if Grace will still be her friend if she learns about the Dade family, or how upset Cara's competition makes her. Middle school drama is rough, even without trying to deal with three dead family members that are still present and interacting with her. There's homework and school research projects and the Christmas concert as well. She's juggling a lot at once, and then we get to add in accidents that seem to be targeting her specifically, so when her brother recalls how ordinary things were just before the explosion that killed him and their mother, it seems to be a serial killer targeting their family.

The mystery aspect of this novel, as the kids track down suspects and sift through clues, is very entertaining. There were no real clues for them to guess who the bad guy was until they're told in the end, but they're also twelve and not professional sleuths. To me, that was less the point of the investigation and more that they were figuring out their relationships with people around them and who to trust. That's such an important lesson, and this story brings it all together at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and hope to see the Dade family again!

By Grave Mistakes at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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