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Ruined: A Ghost Story

Ruined: A Ghost Story

By: Paula Morris 
Publisher: Point 
Publication Date: August 2009 
ISBN: 978-0-545-04215-4 
Reviewed By: Ellen Feld 
Review Date: September 2009 

Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Brown didn’t want to move to New Orleans. She loved New York City but unfortunately her dad had to go to China for six months on a business trip. Rebecca was forced to live with her quirky aunt Claudia and her insistently cheerful cousin Aurelia until her father’s return.

When she arrived in New Orleans, Rebecca’s aunt warned her to stay away from neighboring Lafayette Cemetery because “…criminals and derelicts…wait for tourists to wander in so they can mug them.” Of course, with such a warning, the cemetery is the first place Rebecca wanted to go.

One night, Rebecca followed a group of obnoxious classmates into the cemetery to spy on them. What were they doing? But when the gang hears Rebecca, she rushes away and is quickly lost in the dark. Fortunately, she stumbles across a friendly girl, Lisette, who helps Rebecca get out of the cemetery. The two soon become friends but it isn’t long before Rebecca learns the truth; Lisette is a ghost.

Lisette is a ghost with a secret and she needs Rebecca’s help. The girl from New York is soon drawn into a multi-generation curse where danger lurks around just about every corner. Will Rebecca be able to help Lisette? Can Anton, the hunky boy from the spoiled, rich-kids group be trusted? What about aunt Claudia? How much does she really know?

The plot of Ruined certainly doesn’t offer anything new. It is the much used story of a ghost who needs the help of a living soul to avenge her murder so she can go to her final resting place. But the author places the action in New Orleans, a city rich in history, voodoo lore and mystery. The city background sets the tone for the story and aids in building believability and tension for the characters. A particularly memorable scene occurs when Lisette takes Rebecca on a four-mile walk to her home. By holding Lisette’s hand, Rebecca becomes invisible to the living and is able to see all the ghosts wandering around the city. The descriptions of both the city as well as the ghosts, from the nineteenth-century dockworkers with rope burns around their necks, to a slave who was flogged to death and a soccer mom who was killed by a drunk driver, spice up the journey and keep the story moving.

As Rebecca gets deeper into the mystery surrounding Lisette’s death, the pace quickens and the plot takes several unexpected turns. It isn’t clear until the end of the book if the curse will be lifted and that mystery will keep the reader hooked until the very end.

Quill says: Ruined is a fun ghost story with a New Orleans flavor.

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