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The List of Unspeakable Fears

Essie O’Neill is afraid of everything. She’s afraid of cats and electric lights. She’s afraid of the silver sick bell, a family heirloom that brings up frightening memories. Most of all, she’s afraid of the red door in her nightmares.

But soon Essie discovers so much more to fear. Her mother has remarried, and they must move from their dilapidated tenement in the Bronx to North Brother Island, a dreary place in the East River. That’s where Essie’s new stepfather runs a quarantine hospital for the incurable sick, including the infamous Typhoid Mary. Essie knows the island is plagued with tragedy. Years ago, she watched in horror as the ship General Slocum caught fire and sank near its shores, plummeting one thousand women and children to their deaths.

Now, something on the island is haunting Essie. And the red door from her dreams has become a reality, just down the hall from her bedroom in her terrifying new house. Convinced her stepfather is up to no good, Essie investigates. Yet to uncover the truth, she will have to face her own painful history — and what lies behind the red door. The War That Saved My Life meets Coraline in this chilling middle grade historical novel following an anxious young girl learning to face her fears — and her ghosts — against the backdrop of the typhoid epidemic.

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Description

"[Essie's] beloved father’s death still haunts her, and her new life will surely expose her to many of the items on her List of Unspeakable Fears — an index including everything from 'ravenous polar bears' to doors, fire, and 'talkative strangers.' The news that three nurses have recently gone missing from the island — and the suspicion that her sinister-seeming stepfather is responsible — gives Essie a focus for her anxiety (sensitively portrayed and discussed further in an author’s note).... Kramer’s (The Story That Cannot Be Told) novel is a deliciously creepy ghost story with a mystery at its core and, given discussions about vaccines and contagion, special resonance for the current historical moment." — Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Recommended Age 10 - 13
Author J. Kasper Kramer
ISBN 1534480749
Publication Date Sep 14, 2021
Publisher Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Language English