Title: A Spirited Inheritance
Author: Betty Mermelstein
Rating: 3 stars
Karen is not looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with what family she has left – her mother, aunt and cousin. But she definitely isn’t expecting two additions to the holiday – her long-dead, multiple-great-grandparents Margaret and Thomas. But after she stares at their pictures for longer than usual, they appear with not only stories about family secrets but also a hidden treasure buried underneath the bathroom tiles – if Karen can figure out how to get it out.
The premise of A Spirited Inheritance was really interesting. Karen was having a hard time getting along with her mother and relatives, and it was nice to see her be able to connect with some of her family. The way Margaret and Thomas interact with the modern world is often comical, like the way they insist on hanging out in the bathroom because it used to be a sunroom, and how they insist on interacting normally with Karen, even when she is around other people who can't see them.
The story had a good theme that centered on what it means to be a family. Even though Karen’s ancestors were dead did not mean that they stopped wanting to help. And even though Karen and her mother did not always get along did not mean that they did not care about one another.
I first need to put in the note that A Spirited Inheritance was definitely one of those works that could have been well-served by having professional editing done. Especially at the beginning, much of the punctuation and word choice was suboptimal.
Other than that, a lot of the story felt forced. Like, why did the hardware store show up in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner to award a prize? At first I thought it was to artificially make everything happen over Thanksgiving weekend, but as the timeline of the story stretched, I didn’t understand why that had been rushed.
I also found most of the characters in the story difficult to like. Karen and her mother seemed to be in a kind of pattern where they didn’t try to understand each other and repeatedly did things just to upset the other. Karen’s cousin was a little brat. The only people I liked were Margaret and Thomas, and they were dead.
Sadly, Karen’s only non-familial relationship in the book was with her 8-year-old neighbor the Bug Boy. And he was more the villain of the piece.
Will I read more?
I’m not sure whether A Spirited Inheritance was a stand-alone novella or whether there will be more books in the series, but I think I am unlikely to pick them up either way.
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