Fourteen-year-old Iris Rhame accidentally awakens the ghost of boy, Elijah, dead these last twenty years. Elijah's disappearance from the small Louisiana town remains a mystery that the townsfolk are reluctant to talk about, so Iris, her best friend, Collette, and Collette's boyfriend, Ben, set out to solve the mystery, armed with a Ouija board and a book of spells.
It's Iris and Collette's last summer to indulge in childish things. They're on the cusp of being too old for make-believe and ghost stories, but what starts of as a game of pretend turns into something real. Iris has a hard time convincing Collette and Ben that Elijah really is haunting her, and the rest of the town would rather let secrets stay in the past, especially Iris's father and Elijah's mad mother. I love stories about this in-between time, where characters are caught between childhood and adulthood. There's great tension between Iris and Collette, as Collette is the one dying to grow up while Iris still likes to indulge her childish side.
To an Australian who loves Anne Rice's books and adores Anna Paquin's twang in True Blood, Louisiana is a deliciously exotic setting. The heat, the lemonade, the way people talk. The manners! Everyone is so polite. "Yes, sir" to your father! Saundra Mitchell is an excellent writer and has great economy with words. Every sentence is a delight as each has purpose, and the dialogue is spot on. The relationship between the two girls is very realistic and amusing.
Shadowed Summer is short and sweet. Though it's a ghost story, it's more mysterious than scary. The mystery itself is easily guessed at but this book is still a delightful quick read. I think I shall make beans and rice for dinner! (A traditional Louisiana dish.)