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Prologue: Twelve Years Earlier
The novel opens twelve years prior to the story, when Chloe is a little girl. Her parents have her in the care of a babysitter, Emily. Chloe is standing in front of the steps of the basement, hands and body shaking. For reasons she doesn’t understand, her babysitter Emily is demanding she go down into the basement to help her find where her mother stashes the sodas. But Chloe is sure her mother told her NOT to go into the basement since Chloe fears the basement. Emily threatens to drag Chloe down into the basement and lock the door if she does not get down there immediately. Chloe quickly descends the stairs and heads to where the cellar is bit she doesn’t find Emily waiting for her. Instead Emily’s voice screams from upstairs in concern, she can’t find Chloe. A voice next to Chloe in the basement mimics Emily’s voice from upstairs. Chloe turns slowly, knowing it has to be Mrs. Hobb, one of the ghosts that lives in her basement. Mrs. Hobb had lured Chloe down into the basement since she had not seen Chloe in such a long time.
“Mrs. Hobb’s skin rippled and squirmed. Then it went black and shiny crackling like twigs in a campfire. Big chunks fell off, plopping onto the floor. Her hair sizzled and burned away. And then there was nothing left but a skull dotted with scraps of blackened flesh.” ~Chloe
Chloe is asleep when she’s shaken awake by Liz. At first Chloe can’t understand what Liz is talking about. She is rambling about having been awake for hours trying to figure out how to ask Chloe something but she hasn’t been to. She tells Chloe the nurses and Dr. Gill want to send her away but she doesn’t want to go, they’ll lock her up. Liz asks Chloe for her help. Chloe agrees without really knowing how she can help and Liz pulls a bag from underneath her bed that holds a glass cup, spices, a candle. Chloe doesn’t understand what she’s talking about and Liz explains to do a séance. Chloe thinks at first it’s a joke but realizes Liz is serious and asks Liz if this has to do with the poltergeist (Liz believes she has a poltergeist). Liz tells Chloe everyone always thinks she’s the one who does the stuff she’s accused of but it’s not her, it’s the poltergeist, like when Ms. Wang got hurt with a pencil. Liz thinks the poltergeist is trying to protect her since when she gets mad things start to fly everywhere. She’s tried to stop it but thinks since Chloe can talk to ghost maybe she can get the poltergeist to listen. Chloe doesn’t know what to say and Liz takes her silence as her not believing she really has a poltergeist. Liz becomes angry and everything around the room starts flying. Chloe agrees to help Liz and tells her to get the candle but then the door brusts open and Mrs. Talbot walks in. Chloe tires to cover for Liz but Mrs. Talbot knows it was Liz. Miss Van Dop walks carrying a needle and sedates Liz. Mrs. Talbot sends Chloe out of the room. Tori slams Chloe into the wall and demands to know what Chloe had done to Liz. Chloe straightens herself and tells Tori she hadn’t been the one to tell Liz Chloe could help her. Tori’s eyes widen, horrified, and she runs back into her room.
“I’m not keen on romantic comedies. This may be like a guy admitting he doesn’t like car chases . . .” ~Chloe
“When I opened my eyes she leaning over me, bathing me in toothpaste breath, her long hair tickling my cheek.” ~Chloe (about Liz when Liz shakes her awake)
1. What do you think is going to happen to Liz?
2. What do you think is the real reason Simon and Derek are at Lyle House? Do you think Simon is really as much as a jerk as Rae claims or do you think he only keeps his distance because he doesn’t want anyone to know his secret?
3. Why do you think the janitor ghost is so desperate to get to Chloe?
4. What do you think is the reason Chloe can see ghosts?
To read all of the chapter summaries and to join the discussion, click here.