Eloise Williams is the inaugural Children’s Laureate for Wales. When you read this eerie, middle grade ghost story, you’ll understand why. An unsettling supernatural tale, it’s also a bildungsroman, about a teen learning to handle her emotions. Set on the wild, windy Welsh coast, it has a brooding atmosphere all of its own.
Thirteen-year-old Lark sets off on what she’s pretty sure is going to be the worst holiday ever. Her mum is dying. Her sister has gone mute. Her best friend is now an ex best friend, after a fall out over a boy. And there isn’t even a mobile signal in the caravan park her family and friends are staying in for October half term.
Despite all this, Lark can’t help but feel the emotional pull of the Welsh countryside. A nature lover, she is enthralled by the rugged landscape she discovers. She and her sister, Snow, explore frosted forests and blustery, misty beaches – where shapes shift and fragments of green glass glitter. As the novel progresses, and events take a sinister turn, the skies darken and the weather grows wilder.
The locals aren’t too friendly either. A woman arrives to warn Lark’s family off the campsite. She ominously tells the holidaymakers that ‘bad things will happen’ if they hang around. ‘She will come for you,’ this harbinger of doom proclaims. Lark doesn’t have too long to ponder on who this mysterious ‘she’ is. Her sister has become obsessed with a ruined house in the woods. While investigating it, both girls spot a small, translucent figure flickering between the trees.
Soon Lark realises this ghost has a chilling plan for her younger sibling. Knowing none of the grownups will believe in it, she must solve the family mystery at the heart of the phantom’s presence. She has to discover why this ghost still walks the woods – and right an old wrong.
Written in the first person from Lark’s perspective, Seaglass somehow manages to blend an authentic teen voice with beautifully poetic descriptions. I read it in a single day. It was so atmospheric I could practically hear the wind howling and feel the icy sea spray in my face. Some sections might be too much for more sensitive or peril-averse tweens, but those ready for a genuinely disquieting ghost story will race through it.