The scariest ghost story I’ve ever heard came from my parents, who told it to me while roasting marshmallows around a bonfire on a fall evening. Their exact words are lost to the years—it’s been a while since I was seven—but I remember their soft tones lulling me into this world involving a metal limb, a graverobber, and a wandering spirit. As the fire crackled while the air cooled, I was completely captivated by their tale, and I couldn’t help but feel that gentle tingle of fear creeping up my spine. I glanced over my shoulder into the woods behind us, looking for something lurking in the trees. A rustling of leaves. A cracking branch. Shadows dancing up to the stars. A ghost out there, lingering just out of sight? I would have believed it.
Years later I discovered their story was a play on The Golden Arm folktale. And while I’ve heard other versions and certainly many more supernatural stories, none have quite compared to the thrill and chill I felt out by that fire.
That is until this year, when I picked up a new, wonderfully eerie, deliciously atmospheric middle grade read. So for this First Line Friday, here’s a fantastic opening to a story that’s perfect for autumn evening reading … maybe even while sitting around a campfire.
If someone had told me yesterday that I’d be spending my Saturday morning in the aisle of a stuffy bookstore searching for ghost stories, I would’ve told them they were nuts. But here I am, staring down an entire row of books with titles like Windy City Mysteries, Chi-Town Haunts, and Second City Ghosts.
I guess I should’ve expected this. Having a dad who is interested in creepy Chicago history is one thing, but having a dad who is obsessed with it is another thing altogether. Two years ago, he wrote a mystery novel called Spirits of Chicago. He went on a book tour and even did an interview on the local news station. I was cool with it at first, but when he announced to the family that he was quitting his job teaching history to start a tour bus company, things went sideways. See, it wasn’t just any tour bus company. It was a ghost tour bus company.
Title: Scritch Scratch
Author: Lindsay Currie
Publication Date: September 01, 2020
Classification: Horror, Middle Grade
Note: First Line Fridays is a feature hosted by Hoarding Books.