The Haunting of Lily Frost by Nova Weetman, paperback novel, 230 pages, published by University of Queensland Press in 2014.
When Melbourne teenager Lily Frost discovers her parents have decided to suddenly move the family to a small country town two hours out of the city, she is very upset. When she sees the house that her parents have bought in the little town of Gideon, she is even less impressed. It is a large house, but it’s big and spooky, and the attic room seems to be calling her. Lily is ripped away from her safe city life with her best friend, Ruby, and finds herself making friends with a cute boy, Danny, and being haunted by the ghost of a missing girl. Tilly, who disappeared nine months before is trying to tell Lily something, but will anyone believe her, or is she imagining it all?
The Haunting of Lily Frost wasn’t terrifying, but there were some creepy scenes. Reading about the attic room in the big old house, I got a bit of a shiver. The house that I conjured up looked extremely scary, with huge gaping eye windows and a screaming door mouth. Okay, I’ve probably read a few too many spooky house stories, but what can I say, I love them! Also I was reading this book late at night, with only my reading lamp, which added to the atmosphere. All ghost stories should be read at night for the full effect!
As a character, Lily was a little pouty and selfish, but I am seeing her as her parents would see her. For a teenager, I think she was well described and developed, along with the other teenage characters. Danny and his twin sister Julia were interesting characters. Julia was so bitter and mean and very catty towards Lily, without any possible cause, which I think is all too common in high school. Danny was extremely different to his sister, he was sweet and welcoming, though he wasn’t entirely altruistic, he wanted a friend outside of the small group of narrow-minded individuals already attending the school in Gideon. Lily was not used to making friends easily, and this made her wary of Danny’s initial overtures of friendship. These felt like normal and real teenage interactions, which really helped to enliven the story. I also liked Lily’s little brother, Max, so easy going and a bit of a snitch, just as I imagine younger brothers to be. The teenager angst angle, was good, with Lily’s and Ruby’s relationship and how they interact when separated. How the relationship fared once complicated by boy issues, including Ruby’s reactions to Lily’s jealousy and selfishness had a ring of truth, and assisted in developing the characters even further. The reader was really able to know the characters.
The Haunting of Lily Frost was a fairly standard ghost story suitable for upper primary school and high school children. It contained all the important elements, such as suddenly cold air, moving objects, mystery and the sensation of being touched by something that cannot be seen. Still, I found myself eager to discover what had happened to Tilly, which kept me turning pages. The plot would thicken at just the right moments, and some of the chapters left me hanging, forcing me to read ‘just one more chapter…’. As the story progressed, the tension built, leaving me wondering if Lily was actually losing it. Overall I liked this book, it was very entertaining. I think that children and teenagers interested in ghost stories and mysteries should definitely try it (possibly at night by torchlight!)