The phenomenally versatile, award-winning author, Candace Fleming, gives teen and older tween readers ten ghost stories sure to send chills up their spines. Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860′s to the present, and ends with the narrator’s death. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago’s rich history—the Great Depression, the World’s Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.
In the synopsis, the author is described, amongst other things, as versatile and that is certainly one of the adjectives I would wholeheartedly attach to her. This versatility is especially evident in On the Day I Died. It is quite difficult to develop different and distinct voices in one book and Fleming achieves it about ten different times in the same novel. The collection of stories all have one theme but are populated by teens from various times in history with very different social positions and ways of talking, thinking and other expression. Fleming stays true to the characters she creates and I felt that this was one of the reasons this collection is such a success.
Another factor that makes this collection of short stories so readable is that it encapsulates in its few pages an entire universe, a whole story. Sometimes, some short stories feel like short glimpses, very fragmentary and leaves the reader frustrated by its shortness but Fleming tells a whole story that feels complete on its own. These are poignant reflections that let readers glimpse the fickleness of life, of the inevitability and unfairness of death and more than that, it shows readers to take enjoyment in their lives. There are no obvious morals or preaching in the stories which I appreciated. The stories feel like you are in a house with many windows and you open one window to one different life and one character before closing it and then opening another one.
I liked this one a lot. I recommend it to anyone who likes something chilly, something interesting and something that leaves you wanting to read more.