Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams
When sisters Sadie and Zuzu Brooks move to Salt Lake City, they discover a secret room in the attic of their new house, with a sign that reads “Palace Beautiful” and containing an old journal. Along with their neighbor, dramatic Belladonna Desolation (real name: Kristin Smith), they take turns reading the story of a girl named Helen living during the flu epidemic of 1918. The journal ends with a tragedy that has a scary parallel to Sadie and Zuzu’s lives, and the girls become obsessed with finding out what happened to Helen after the journal ends. Did she survive the flu? Is she still alive somewhere? Or could her ghost be lurking in the nearby graveyard?
Sarah DeFord Williams has created a gripping read that covers two time periods, many fantastic characters, and a can’t-put-it-down ending, all with delightful, extraordinary prose. [summary from Amazon]
Another pick to throw onto my "most anticipated upcoming middle-grade novels" list! You want to know the first reason I was attracted to this book? Because that neighbor, Kristin Smith, calls herself Belladonna Desolation. Not only is that an incredible name, the behavior is also highly reminiscent of Anne Shirley's, who is one of my favorite characters of all time. Add in a twist of the historical fantasy/paranormal, the possibility of sci-fi in time paradoxes or whatnot, and a secret attic (man, I always wanted one when I was younger), and I think we've got a winner. Or at least a winner for me!
Also, that cover reminds me of the Great Illustrated Classics series, or something similar to either The Little Princess or Little Women. More epic goodness!
Palace Beautiful will be released in hardcover by Putnam Juvenile on April 15, 2010.