Tombstone Tea by Joanne Dahme

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Tombstone Tea by Joanne Dahme

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A teen ghost story that doesn't quite manage to deliver on the spine-tingling, blood-curdling scale.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Running Press USA
ISBN: 978-0762437184

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Having recently moved to a new school, in a new town, Jessie is struggling to make friends and fit in. She is afraid to show these new people who she really is - in her old school she often found she had 'blank' moments, when she could hear voices and 'see' people who weren't really there. In desperation to become part of a 'group' she accepts the dare of a group of girls to spend the night in the Cemetery and collect some gravestone rubbings to prove she was there. Once there she bumps into Paul, the handsome caretaker, and finds herself in the middle of a strange evening when, Paul claims, local actors get together to rehearse for something called the 'Tombstone Tea', a play in which they portray those buried in the graveyard...there's something strange though about these actors and Jessie soon finds herself caught up in a chilling drama.

I was disappointed by this book. It had sounded like a good story idea, but by the end it just left me feeling cold, and not in the scary, bone-chilling kind of way. Jessie, our teenage heroine, annoyed me which didn't really help - is she really so desperate for friends that she would scare herself to death spending the night in a cemetery, especially when it's blatantly obvious that the girls who dared her obviously aren't worth having as friends? Still, I suppose this has to happen for the story to get underway, but I found myself thinking 'just run away and go home' throughout much of the prologue. Also, the big scary bit in this section felt very confusing. I wasn't always sure what was going on, even after reading it over a few times.

The book got better, for me, in the second part, The Betrayal which is told from Paul's point of view rather than Jessie's. I found myself much more interested in his story, and he wasn't irritating like Jessie so I raced through this whole section, hopeful for the rest of the story. Paul's story seemed more believable than Jessie's, and much better written, and had it all centred around him I would've rated the whole book much more highly. Paul rang true as a character, the writing felt tighter and more clearly thought out. Sadly, Jessie returns for the finale, this time playing her newbie spiritualist role as she attempts to reunite two fractious ghosts and help them find their way to peace in the afterlife.

This is, essentially, a ghost story, and some of these ghosts are very, very angry ghosts. It wasn't a very subtle ghost story, however, and I didn't feel spooked by it - perhaps I'm just too old and jaded! The couple of twists that are thrown in through the story weren't really twists as I spotted them coming a mile off, but I think if you're not expecting too much then it would turn out to be a good read. As it wasn't particularly scary it would be good for younger teens who like ghost stories, but not one for those who like a really good fright!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag. We also have a review of The Plague by Joanne Dahme.

For other scary stories check out Bookbag's Top Ten Books For Children Who Love To Be Scared Silly.

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Buy Tombstone Tea by Joanne Dahme at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tombstone Tea by Joanne Dahme at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Tombstone Tea by Joanne Dahme at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tombstone Tea by Joanne Dahme at


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