Spirit is an unusual story. It’s also quite sad and tragedy after tragedy unfolds with the turning pages. The trouble begins when Little Peggy Buchanan disappears from view on a snowy winter’s day. Her older sister, Elizabeth, gets a bad feeling and goes looking for her. She takes her other sister, Laura, with her and when the two girls see Peggy’s footprints leading towards the frozen swimming pool Lizzy sends Laura to get their father. By the time Laura returns with their father Lizzy is already standing on the frozen surface of the pool and looking down at Peggy’s face beneath the ice. For Peggy time stopped at five-past-three on Friday 23rd February, 1940, and things would never be the same for any of the Buchanan family.
The girls’ mother takes it the worst. Margaret Buchanan was always a little mentally frail, she can’t cope with her little ‘Clothes-Peg’s’ death, and has to be institutionalized. Grief has a different effect on their father, causing him to lose weight and go grey before his time. Lizzy and Laura also miss their sister terribly, but they cope much better than their parents. Then when the apparition of a strange girl appears, they wonder if Peggy has returned to them. The girl doesn’t look like Peggy, but she feels like her somehow; even is she does float instead of walk and emits a chill that cools even the warmest summer’s day.
As the years pass, the Peggy-girl keeps appearing and a string of corpses turn up. All the corpses have a connection with the Buchanan family and every one of them shows signs of severe frostbite. Some of them are not just frozen to death, but frozen to pieces! The girls realise who is behind the deaths. It is how and why that they have to figure out. That and how to put a stop to it once and for all.
Elizabeth is the Central character in Spirit and much of the story is told from her perspective. She is intelligent and creative—probably taking after her father, who works in the publishing industry. Laura is the more vain of the two sisters. Perhaps because she takes after her mother, who once had a bit-part in a movie and considers herself a rising star who was grounded by marriage and children. Then again, perhaps Laura feels the need for attention because, as the middle child, she didn’t feel that she was shown enough attention when she was younger. She was never as pretty as Peg, nor was she as smart as Lizzy, but Laura loves attention. She likes men to want her and women to be jealous of her, and Laura’s ambitions are similar to those that her mother once held.
Spirit is as sad as it is chilling and right up until the last pages I was unable to even hazard a guess as to how it would end. The Characters are all reasonably likable, with the natural exception of the bad guys, who are suitably loathsome and always come to a suitably sticky end.
I read the paperback version of Spirit and it ran to about 420 pages. It’s an entertaining story and I enjoyed it. Even after finishing the book though, I was left feeling a little sad over how it turned out for many of the characters.