Cynda’s life seems to be falling apart. Her mom and stepfather are moving to Italy for three years. Cynda hates the idea, so her mother arranges an invitation for Cynda to move to Maine to stay with her dad for at least six months. The dad that left them ten years ago to marry one of his students. The dad who lives in an old inn and writes crime mysteries. The dad she has not seen in two years and who really knows nothing about her. It was obvious that her mom and Steve didn’t want her, but what about her dad? He had a new family, a wife, a five year old son named Todd, and a baby on the way. Would he want her?
Life with her dad at Underhill Inn doesn’t get a lot better. Dad spends most of his time writing, Susan spends her time sewing, and Todd spends his time whining for Cynda to play another game or read another book. When they are all together, Cynda still feels left out and alone. To make matters worse, Cynda learns that the inn is supposed to be haunted by the ghost of a young girl who was murdered sixty years earlier, possibly by one of the inn’s male guests. Now she not only has to worry about trying to be part of this family, she also has to worry about running into a ghost.
Because it is winter the inn usually has no guests because of the harsh Maine climate, but a mysterious and handsome stranger, Vincent Morthanos, shows up at dinner wanting to rent a room for a month or more. Everyone is entranced by Vincent almost immediately, everyone except Todd who insists that Vincent is a bad man. Cynda is especially taken with Vincent, and he seems to be just as interested in her. Even though he is at least ten years her elder, he seems to understand and sympathize with every one of her fears and insecurities. During a game of Scrabble, Cynda’s dad realizes that the words played on the board spell out a sentence, “Ill come to thee by moonlight”. Cynda realizes that it doesn’t say “Ill” but rather “I’ll” and she knows it is a message to her from Vincent; he will meet her after dark, but was Cynda’s dad’s interpretation of the sentence the more accurate. Is Vincent really all that he seems to be, or is he hiding a dark and deadly secret? Will Cynda finally have someone who will love her unconditionally, or will her feelings for the handsome stranger put her life in danger?
Look For Me by Moonlight is a YA book by one of my favorite authors, Mary Downing Hahn. Ms. Hahn is a very sophisticated and sweet lady who looks like she should be baking cookies and knitting scarves instead of writing dark and intriguing paranormal fiction. Her books are among the most popular titles in my library, and she is my go-to author when I have a student who comes in looking for a “scary book”. While my elementary students love Ms. Hahn’s books, Look For Me by Moonlight is for a slightly older audience. There is a strong romantic element that would not be appealing to most elementary aged students. A forte of Ms. Hahn’s writing, however, is that they do not only appeal to a certain age group. The very books that my elementary students love, are also loved by many of my teachers as well. Her stories are so well written that their enjoyment is not confined to a single age demographic.
I will admit that I had the antagonist figured out pretty quickly. The main character, Cynda, is the narrator of this story, so the reader sees the events unfold through her point of view. With that said, this is one of those novels that makes the reader want to shout at the narrator and ask, “Are you stupid??? Can you not see what this guy is????”, but you know that she is so infatuated with the villain that she can’t see what is right in front of her face. Even though I had the antagonist and main conflict figured out pretty quickly (which may turn off some readers), I couldn’t stop reading because I couldn’t figure out how Cynda was going to get herself out of the mess she had gotten wrapped up in. As with all of the other Hahn books I have read, Ms. Hahn worked her magic and brought the whole thing to a satisfying conclusion even though I had my doubts that there was any way to rescue Cynda. Guess it’s a good thing Ms. Hahn was writing this book and not me 🙂
(Mary Downing Hahn photo credit: http://www.grimmensteinbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/mary_88171-244×300.jpg)