I first encountered Blue Balliett’s Nantucket Hauntings while babysitting one summer in an old sea captain’s house. My charge had gone to sleep hours before, and hoping for something to read, I searched the shelves of the summer rental. I spent the rest of the night holding my breath at every creak and sigh of the old house, gripped by the stories Blue recounted.
Blue Balliett has since written a number of books, including seven page-turning young adult mysteries. Edgar Award and Agatha Award winning Chasing Vermeer is the sort of book I wish was around when I was a young reader. True crime has never been more popular than it is right now, and Chasing Vermeer is a perfect mystery. Written while Blue was teaching, Chasing Vermeer follows Petra and Calder as they try to unravel an impossible puzzle: what, exactly, is art?
Blue’s latest book, Out of the Wild Night, returns to the ghosts of Nantucket. This time, Nantucket’s ghosts, and the memories and traditions they hold dear, are threatened when the historic homes they linger in are the victims of gut rehabs. Nantucket Island and its extraordinary sense of place is a central character in this read. The children of Nantucket have the ability to hear the ghosts from earlier times and work with them to thwart greedy developers who are stripping Nantucket homes of all their character.
I work in historic preservation, and I can tell you that Blue knows what she’s writing about. Nantucket has one of the largest assemblages of pre-Civil War era historic homes (more than 800 of them) and they are threatened by the island’s rapid growth and development. Nantucket loses about 20 historic interiors a year--and with it, a piece of the island that we love. Out of the Wild Night shines a light on this important issue.
Writing mysteries is hard work, but Blue makes it look so easy. Her intricate plots will keep even adults guessing, but accessible, lyrical prose is just right for young adult readers.
Blue writes the sort of books both young and young at heart can read along together. The Nantucket Book Festival is all about creating a community of readers, and celebrating the joy of reading at any age. Your support helps us continue to bring great authors like Blue Balliett to the Festival.