When the Curtain Rises by Rachel Dunstan Muller
Published by Orca Book Publishers on March 1st 2007
Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery
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Chloe McBride has some reservations about accepting her elderly great-aunts' invitation to spend part of the summer with them in Little Venice, but her initial reluctance is outweighed by her curiosity about the mysterious key that came with her aunts' note. She's also anxious to put the humiliating memory of a disastrous piano recital as far behind her as possible. Chloe's great-aunts tell her the legend of her great-grandfather, Dante Magnus, an ambitious magician who vanished without a trace almost a century earlier, and Chloe begins to search for clues to his disappearance. When her investigations eventually lead her to a mysterious rosewood box, which has been hidden for almost a hundred years, Chloe's belief in the power of magic forces her to confront her own fears and ambitions.
The writing was fine.
This book was really magical in a mysterious way. It was perfectly eerie. It wasn’t exactly scary, but it was certainly a great ghost story/mystery. I love how the main theme is Chloe getting over stage fright with the help of a haunted house, a new friend, and an old ancestor. But she overcomes so much more than just stage fright. The end shows her strength of character.
The only thing I really had an issue with was her relationship with her new friend Nyssa. I could see how they were friends but I felt like it was more out of necessity than anything else. They seemed to spend a lot of time bickering or doubting each other and I’m not sure they ever really got over that. But Nyssa certainly helped Chloe in the way she needed to be helped.
All of the ‘magical’ elements of the story were done perfectly. Especially the creepy painting that changed. That was the most eerie part. And the dreams, and the memoir, and the neighbor, and the box, and just the general atmosphere of the house with the old unused rooms and the hidden ones. And her great aunts were delightful characters.
Good vs. Bad
This book was a great ghost story/mystery. It had a wonderfully eerie feel to it and so many magical and creepy elements, especially in the old house. The only thing that was lacking was her relationship with her friend Nyssa, but everything else was well done. It’s a great story about Chloe finding her inner strength. Would I read more by this author? Yes. Would I recommend this book to others? Yes.