The Rose Diary
by C. Maynard and Lil Barcaski
Maynard Productions

"As I opened the first page of the sparkly diary, nothing I had previously written was there."

Jacqueline is just 12 years old when her sister Sandra dies of a mysterious illness. Racked with grief, the sudden loss threatens to tear her family apart. Jacqueline starts dressing in all black and becomes a cynical teen overnight. Her father seems distant and hard to reach, and her mother retreats to drinking. Investigating her sister’s neatly-maintained room, Jacqueline finds a diary that belonged to her sister but is totally empty. Needing an outlet, she takes the diary and begins to write down her feelings in a hurry. When she wakes up the next morning, however, the words have all vanished and are replaced by a message that Jacky believes is from her sister. That message is one pleading for help from beyond the grave, a message from Sandra that states she believes she was murdered.

Juxtaposing a young protagonist but serious subject matter, this story is ideal for teenage or older readers who already love a suspenseful mystery. Jacqueline makes allusions to Hitchcock films and Agatha Christie novels appropriately. The pacing of this book is tantalizing and meticulous. Readers will wonder whether the things Jacky experiences are part of her psyche trying to cope with unimaginable grief or directly supernatural occurrences pointing at a sinister plot. After a roller coaster-sized first hill full of hints of what is to come but almost fully grounded in reality, the story shifts into top gear and bombards the reader with curious details, drama, and danger. In the best way, this story builds up a reader’s expectations and then ignores them long enough to create self-doubt before it crescendos into a final act that will leave readers breathless and cheering for more.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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