James Lincoln Collier,
The Empty Mirror
(Bloomsbury, 2004)

Nick Hodges has a huge problem. Only 13 and an orphan, he's always had a bit of a reputation as a troublemaker. But now someone who looks just like him is throwing stones at the church, being rude to townsfolk and even setting the schoolhouse on fire in broad daylight. The entire town has condemned him and wants to put him in a psychiatric ward. Just as eerily, Nick's shadow has vanished. Has it somehow gained the power to betray him?

This young adult novel by James Lincoln Collier is a spooky ghost story and an exciting thriller. Readers will warm to the sassy yet endearing best friend, Gypsy Dauber, a ne'er-do-well who is the only person to believe Nick's story. Nick must convince his beloved yet estranged uncle that he's telling the truth and manage to catch his doppelganger -- all before the townsfolk take their revenge upon him. But what is the hidden connection between Nick and the epidemic victim Jared Solters, who died when Nick's parents did?

Nick is a real person caught in an untenable situation, which forces him to risk everything rather than accept the blame for another's actions. The lingering questions at the end will tease readers' imaginations and provoke endless speculation. This is a fast-paced, exciting read from beginning to end.

by Valerie Frankel
24 June 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.