Review of The Carrefour Curse

The Carrefour Curse The Carrefour Curse
by Dianne K. Salerni
Intermediate, Middle School    Holiday    224 pp.
1/23    9780823452675    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780823455027    $10.99

This spooky, dark, and utterly delicious tale begins with a bang: protagonist Garnet is vomiting up frogs, a pestilence that will ease only when she returns to Crossroad House, the house her mother grew up in and fled, vowing never to return. The occasion is a fraught one. Family patriarch Jasper Carrefour is dying, and the last time he was seriously ill, two decades ago in 1998, a wing of the house burned down, four family members were killed, two were gravely injured, and another girl went missing. The suspicion is that Jasper recovered by stealing each one’s life force. At Crossroad House, Garnet learns the reason for her mother’s self-imposed exile: a cousin foresaw Garnet’s disappearance while visiting ruins on the grounds of Crossroad House. Unable to leave this magically enforced family reunion until Jasper “transitions,” Garnet promises to avoid the ruins, but with the house itself playing tricks, her promise might be difficult to keep. Building on a family where element-based magic is commonplace (Garnet and her mother work with stones; others wield weather, plants, or even fire), Salerni sustains an atmosphere of menace through a death, several near-fatal accidents, and revelations of other ancestors’ fates that Garnet learns about through a newfound talent for time-walking that connects her to her great-great-grandmother and the missing girl from 1998. Interconnected ­mysteries keep readers turning pages, and when they all converge, the payoff is spine-chilling and satisfying.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Anita L. Burkam

Anita L. Burkam
Horn Book reviewer Anita L. Burkam is former associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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