Synopsis: Ghost Wood Song follows Shady Grove, a teenage girl living in rural Florida. Like her father before her, Shady can call ghosts from the grave by playing her father’s fiddle. When her brother is accused of murder, Shady decides to play the fiddle to figure out what really happened, straight from the mouth of the dead.
I really enjoyed the overall Southern gothic vibes of this book. It’s creepy and haunted, dealing with ghosts, an evil figure that rises from the dark, a haunted house, and plenty of death. But in between the dark sections, Waters writes about a teenage girl trying to figure out her feelings for one of her best friends, Sarah, and a boy named Cedar. While I’m not one for love triangles, I found that this one didn’t bother me too much.
I also enjoyed how Waters wrote about music. All of Shady’s friends play music, too, and I liked hearing about their playing styles; I felt like I learned a lot about bluegrass music. Waters’ love for music shone on the page and through Shady’s character.
My one main critique is that I feel like I didn’t get to know some of the secondary characters as much as I wanted to. We’re told that Orlando is Shady’s best friend, but I feel like he rarely shows up in any scenes. Near the beginning, we’re told what Shady is like from Sarah’s mouth, before I felt like I really knew Shady as a character. Throughout the book, a lot of the characters are kept at a surface level, which is a shame, because I enjoyed all of the characters and wanted to get to know them better.
Despite this, I like Water’s writing style. I enjoyed her imagery and descriptions, and the way she writes about the setting really allows it to come alive on the page.
If you’re looking for a murder mystery with themes of family, grief, love, and music, with LGBTQ representation, then pick this up!