Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Lost in Time: Trapped in Room 217 by Thomas Kingsley Troupe


Despite a pretty heavy comforter on the bed, Jayla was cold.

The room was cold.

She sat up slightly and nearly shrieked at what she saw. There was a woman in the room. She was standing almost next to her. Waves of cold and terror washed over Jayla. Something inside her told her that she needed to watch this woman.

She's a ghost, Jayla thought. There's a ghost in our room.

Jayla could see right through her. Even so, she could make out her clothes, an old-time maid's uniform.

A sudden work assignment has come up for Jayla's and her younger brother Dion's father, and even though an extra two days off for spring break is great and the drive though snowy Colorado is beautiful, there is something troubling about the imposing old Stanley Hotel. Suddenly the remarks of a couple of the older guests, saying they were in for "an interesting night" makes sense.

After Jayla's midnight encounter with the ghost, the first thing she does is pull out her phone and search out information on the Stanley Hotel, which turned out to have a worldwide reputation for America's most haunted. She discovers that the ghost maid has even put her shoes by the door and tidied up their bathroom. With Dad working all day, she and Dion are stuck in the old hotel, and they decide to find out as much as possible about the resident ghost. They discover that there are other ghosts reported there. When they learn that they are too young for the "Ghost Tour," a employee takes them on a short version, and Jayla learns that Room 217 is indeed famous for its ghost, Elizabeth Wilson, and her nightly appearance, in which she always seems to be searching for something on the floor beside the bed.

If they are stuck in the hotel for at least a week, Jayla and Dion decide to spend their time figuring out what is keeping Elizabeth "stuck" in Room 217 every night.

Jayla and Dion are intrigued when she discovers that there seems to be some object beneath the carpet beside the bed, and when she finds a knife and makes a cut in the rug just large enough for her finger, she finds a locket with a photo of a woman underneath. Can this be what the ghostly Elizabeth is seeking?

Can Jayla free the ghost of Elizabeth from her nightly search?

Thomas Kingsey Troupe's series has the promising premise of young ghost hunter stories in some of America's notably haunted places, and for middle readers who prefer just a touch of scariness, his Trapped in Room 217 (Haunted States of America) (Jolly Fish Press, 2018, 2019) avoids terror and emphasizes rational and sensitive kids having their own "ghost busters" adventures in real-life famous spooky places. With black-and-white illustrations by artist Maggie Ivy on many pages, this title in the series makes for a bridge to the noted ghost stories of the master, Mary Downing Hahn, whose best-selling novels combine real empathy with ghostly encounters, include Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story, The Old Willis Place, The Girl in the Locked Room: A Ghost Story, and Took: A Ghost Story, and many more (see reviews here).

Of Troupe's short and simple ghost novels, School Library Journal says, "... young middle readers "will quickly flock to this high interest, accessible thriller."

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