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"Gallows Hill" is a very well crafted suspense/supernatural thriller. Although I don't usually go for the paranormal books, this one was presented in a way that was, for the most part, believable. It is also supposed to be a young adult book, but I found it entertaining for the not-so-young adults as well.
The book starts with Sarah Zoltanne being forced to relocate from Ventura, California, to tiny Pine Crest, Missouri, for her final year of high school. She was forced to follow when her mother Rosemary, widowed for several years, met Ted Thompson at a teacher conference and fell irresistibly in love. Ted was still married, although separated, and had a teenage daughter, Kyra, who was only one year younger than Sarah. The move was particularly rough for Sarah as no child wants to move away from their friends for their last year of high school. Add to that the fact that Pine Crest was a small community where the children had known each other almost from birth, and Sarah and Kyra couldn't stand each other, and you get what was the makings of a pretty miserable senior year for Sarah.
The class president, and anointed golden boy of Pine Crest, Eric Garrett, asks Sarah to help with the senior class fundraiser. They were holding a carnival in the gymnasium and Eric wanted her to be 'Madame Zoltanne,' fortune teller extraordinaire. Sarah tried every excuse she could think of to get out of it especially the fact that she didn't know the first thing about telling fortunes. Eric had a plan though. Kyra had a wireless radio and would feed info on all the people walking in Sarah's tent. Sarah would then put everything together and come up with a fortune. Her mother even had a crystal paperweight (which had a life of its own) that Sarah could use as a crystal ball.
Pressured to try and 'fit in' by Ted and Rosemary, Sarah agrees. The night turned out to be a major success. People were astonished that a stranger knew so many details about them, many she had never even spoken with before. All was going very well until Charlie Gorman walked in. Overweight and uncoordinated, Charlie was the class whipping board and was constantly being teased. When Sarah looked in the crystal ball for Charlie, she saw him being pushed down a flight of stairs. She was so taken aback by this that she feigned a headache and, since the carnival was almost over, decided to call it a night. When Charlie showed up at school the next day with a cast on his arm, things started getting sticky for Sarah.
Eric, having a hidden agenda of his own, pressures Sarah into holding private readings for cash. Kyra has a major crush on Eric and agrees to help. As she holds more fortune readings, Sarah sees things in the crystal ball which ultimately come to fruition. Add to this her nightmares about the Salem Witch trials and her growing friendship with Charlie, who is a proponent of reincarnation, and things start to spiral out of control for Sarah.
I very much enjoyed reading this book and while the plot was not really surprising, it kept the pages turning. None of us know what's on the other side of the grave, so who can say what happens.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I enjoyed this book, I don't adhere to new age beliefs, but all in all good storyline. I always liked Lois Duncan's books.
Good little story! I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, and listened to it all within 1 day. Truly engaging.
I remembered this as being one of my favourites of Lois Duncan's books when I read a clutch of them years ago. I didn't like it as much this time around. I still liked Charlie very much, and the plot is good, but I'd forgotten how annoying Sarah herself is. Or maybe that's just me. She has plenty to bear, but she doesn't do herself any favours by being constantly prickly and confrontational.