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About The Book

Evie once again leaves her world behind to rescue Blight Harbor’s ghosts in this “deliciously dark and gripping” (Kirkus Reviews) second book in the middle grade Blight Harbor trilogy that’s reminiscent of Doll Bones and Small Spaces.

Evie Von Rathe has been home for only a few weeks from her adventure in the strange world of seven houses when Blight Harbor’s beloved ghosts begin to disappear. Did they leave without saying goodbye, or has something gone horribly wrong? Soon Evie is invited to a mysterious council meeting, where she learns about the Dark Sun Side and a terrible secret.

Yes, the ghosts have gone missing. And that means serious trouble.

With the help of an eleven-year-old (or 111-year-old, but who’s counting) ghost named Lark, trusty Bird, and a plump ghost spider, Evie must find a way to defeat the vicious Nighthouse Keeper responsible for the missing ghosts, save her otherworldly friends, and find her way home from the Dark Sun Side before she’s trapped there forever.


Chapter 1

“I’m sorry, Evie. She’s gone.” Mr. Seong’s words and the sadness in his kind eyes made my heart drop like a rock right into my stomach.

“Gone where?” I asked, but I was afraid I already knew. Florence—the ghost that lived in my best friend, Maggie’s, house—had moved on. To where, I wasn’t sure, but it had happened. It was supposed to happen. Ghosts weren’t meant to stay forever. Eventually, they all left.

“Off to wherever they go, I suppose.” Mr. Seong looked deflated. He stood in the doorway, with only an empty and quiet house behind him. I’d been concerned about Florence being lonely while Maggie and her mom were away for the summer, but I’d never once considered that Maggie’s poor dad might have been lonely too.

“When?” I’d planned to stop by and visit Florence every few days while my friend was on her trip. And I did. At first. But since my “adventure” with The Clackity and Pope in the strange neighborhood with the purple sky, I hadn’t really gone out much (Des was keeping me pretty close). So, after weeks of meaning to, I’d finally gotten around to visiting Florence, only to discover that I was too late.

As sad as I was, I was even more surprised that Florence hadn’t waited for Maggie before she left for good. Maggie had always been the ghost’s favorite, and the idea that Florence would go without saying goodbye felt wrong.

“I wish I knew. Last night, maybe? Early this morning?” He ran a hand through his dark hair and stared down at his slippered feet.

“She didn’t even say goodbye to you? What did her note say?” Blight Harbor’s house ghosts generally found a way to communicate with the people they lived with. They couldn’t talk (at least, not in a way that most people could hear), but they could type, or write, or draw pictures. Florence usually used the big chalkboard in the Seongs’ kitchen if she wanted to say something.

When Mr. Seong looked back up at me, there were tears in his eyes. “No note. Nothing. Do me a favor and don’t tell Maggie, okay? It’ll ruin her trip, and there’s nothing to be done about it, anyway.”

Now there were tears in my eyes too. Florence had been part of the Seong family since before Maggie was even born. I’d been friends with Maggie for so long that the ghost had been like family to me, too. She’d been there for birthdays and holidays and even those hard days when you’d just needed someone to listen. Ghosts were generally good listeners—better than people, for sure—and sometimes I had a lot that I needed to say. “I don’t understand how she could just leave like that.”

“I know, Evie.” Mr. Seong came out onto the porch and gave me an awkward side hug. It was a pretty big gesture for him. “If it was her time, it was her time. Maybe… maybe saying goodbye was just too hard?”

“Maybe,” I managed. But I didn’t believe it. Despite the cold and heavy sadness, there was still a bright, hot little spot in the middle of me that said something wasn’t right. Bird settled into his favorite place on my collarbone and nudged me with his tiny head. The little black tattoo sparrow had been with me for just a few weeks, but we already understood one another. I knew my buddy was trying to comfort me.

I turned away so that my best friend’s dad (and the elementary school principal) wouldn’t see my tears. Mr. Seong had seen me cry plenty of times, but he didn’t need to today. He was sad enough already. I made my way down the porch steps and to my bike.

From behind me, Mr. Seong called softly, “Please, Evie. Don’t tell Maggie. She’ll be home soon enough.”

“I promise,” I said over my shoulder.

And I meant it. I wouldn’t tell Maggie. But I was absolutely going to tell my aunt Desdemona.

To my surprise, Des was on the front porch, sitting on the stairs with her knees bouncing as restlessly as mine often did. She waved with one hand while picking something out of her tangle of dark curls with the other. I’d expected her to be at her weekly community meeting. I had no idea what she met about, or even who she met with, but she never missed a week.

“Meeting get canceled?” I called as I parked my bike in the driveway and crossed the lawn.

Des shook her head. “Not canceled. We took a break. I came here to get you, and then we’re going back.” She pulled at her hair again and this time found what she was looking for. A small silhouette of a sparrow not much larger than a fat honeybee came free of her thick hair. Pinching the dark shape of the bird gently between two fingers, Des held it in front of her. “Go back to where you belong,” she said, releasing the tiny shadow creature.

The sparrow fluttered back to the wall of our enclosed porch and joined the rest of the flock that had followed us home from the abattoir where we’d first met them. I had a shadow creature of my very own—Bird, the little living tattoo who’d been with me since that awful, surreal day I’d met The Clackity.

Bird fluttered his wings as if to say hi to his friends, but he stayed put on my skin.

“What? Why?” The sounds that came from my mouth probably sounded more like whines than questions. I’d never attended one of Aunt D’s boring Friends of Blight Harbor meetings, and I wasn’t interested in changing that fact—especially right then. I was sad and worried, and I didn’t want to listen to a bunch of old people argue about street signs or the community garden or whatever it was they did. “Maybe next time.”

“Nope. You’re coming,” Des said. She didn’t use that responsible-adult-in-charge voice often, but when she did, there was no use arguing with her. I tried anyway.

“Des, I’ll be fine. Seriously. Nothing’s going to happen to me between the kitchen and the couch.” Aunt D normally didn’t have a problem leaving me alone for a few hours, but ever since my—our—recent adventure, she’d kept a closer watch on me.

She shook her head again. “It’s not that. We need you there today.”

“You do?” What could they possibly need me for? I had zero opinion on the shrubs lining the sidewalks or the paint color of the post office.

“We do. Get in the car. I’ll explain on the way.” She was already up and heading toward her SUV.

There was no arguing with Des when she was set on something, and she seemed to be set on this. Besides, I was a little curious to find out why a bunch of adults needed a twelve-year-old at the meeting. “Fine. I have something to tell you, too.”

“I’ll drive slow,” she said.

I went first, telling Aunt D about Florence.

I hadn’t noticed the dark circles that had formed under Desdemona’s eyes until they narrowed in grim concern. She listened quietly and then said, “It’s worse than we thought.”

“?‘We’ who?” I asked.

It didn’t take me long to find out.

What I learned on the short car ride between our house and the meeting hall was that Aunt Desdemona did, in fact, belong to a community group. But it was not a group that met to discuss parks and stop signs and other things a “normal” citizen group might be interested in. Instead, this group focused on otherworldly issues that cropped up in Blight Harbor from time to time. Not little stuff like the problems Des wrote about in her advice column. This group discussed bigger problems that affected the whole town, like an unexpected rise in the poltergeist population or spells-turned-curses cast by people who had no business (or experience) casting them. They were like a neighborhood watch, but way cooler and a lot weirder.

I wasn’t exactly surprised that Blight Harbor had a group like that. More than anything, I was irritated and a little hurt that I hadn’t known my aunt was part of it. I sulked on purpose, scooting as far from Des as I could and resting my head on the window. “You lied. We don’t lie to each other.”

“I most certainly did not lie,” Des said, glancing over at me. “You never asked.”

“Shouldn’t have to.”

“You’re a child, Evelyn. You can’t be involved in everything.”

“I. Am not. A child,” I said more loudly than was necessary, since we were in the same car. I could feel my face burning. I was almost as tall as Des and nearly thirteen. Plus, I’d been on an epic journey to save her from certain doom less than a month ago. It wasn’t fair for Des to play the you’re-only-a-kid card.

“We’ll discuss this later,” Des said in that tone I was starting to get used to—the one that said not to argue too much. “You’ll learn a lot at the meeting.”

“I still don’t know why you need me,” I said, trying to sound less annoyed than I felt.

“Because,” Des said as she parked the black SUV in front of Irv’s Clays and Glazes, a store I’d never been in, “we think another door has opened. And you were the last person to go through one.”

I had no idea what to say to that.

“Well, to go through and come back,” Desdemona added.

About The Author

Photograph (c) Ira Gardner

Lora Senf is a writer of dark and twisty stories for all ages. She is the author of The Clackity (a Bram Stoker Award Nominee), The Nighthouse Keeper, and The Loneliest Place and credits her love of words to her parents and to the public library that was walking distance from her childhood home. Lora finds inspiration for her writing in her children’s retellings of their dreams, on road trips through Montana, and most recently in an abandoned abattoir. She lives in Washington state with her husband, their twins, and two remarkably lazy cats. Visit her at

Why We Love It

The Nighthouse Keeper is just as deeply imaginative, thrilling, and filled with wonders as The Clackity. While The Clackity excelled as an exploration of self and family, The Nighthouse Keeper opens Evie’s world up to new friendships and even larger stakes, whisking readers away on yet another richly captivating ride from horror powerhouse Lora Senf.”

—Julia M., Editor, on The Nighthouse Keeper

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (December 20, 2023)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665934633
  • Ages: 10 - 12

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Raves and Reviews

*"Nuanced character development is a strength across both first two books of the trilogy. Readers will undoubtedly eagerly await the final volume, even if it will mean saying goodbye to a fascinating and memorable world, and a brilliant protagonist in the heroic Evie, who is so much more than she initially dreams she can be."

– BCCB, Starred Review

“Senf’s nightmarish, well-imagined supernatural landscape is original and compelling. . . . More than just a battle between good and supernatural evil, this story shows the ultimate power of empathy and tenacity. Readers will be left both satisfied by the ending and wanting more. . . . Deliciously dark and gripping.”

– Kirkus Reviews, 9/1/23

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