For fans of Stranger Things comes a suspenseful YA mystery about a missing kid, a girl who can see ghosts, and a horrifying crime only four outcasts have the power to stop.
What if the only person who could help you find your missing brother was dead?
Nothing is as important to sixteen-year-old Shiloh Oleson as her little brother Max. So when the six-year-old goes missing without a trace, a heartbroken Shiloh refuses to believe nothing can be done and sets out to find him.
When one of Shiloh’s classmates says she knows where Max is, Shiloh hesitates to believe her. Francesca is creepy. She says she can see ghosts, but everyone knows ghosts aren’t real … right?
But Francesca says that Max is going to be murdered.
And a ghost told her where he is.
As the line between the dead and living begins to blur, Shiloh starts to think Francesca might not be as crazy as she believed. One thing is becoming clear. Someone has gruesome plans for Max, and Shiloh must confront her worst nightmares to find him before it’s too late.
THEY STAY is the first book in the They Stay Series. Read on if you like ghost stories, plot twists, enemies-to-friends, creepy circuses, budding romance, and unlikely heroes.
Content Warnings: This book contains death, kidnapping, domestic abuse, references to suicide, bullying, and mild adult language.
From Francesca’s POV, the opening of chapter 2
In the whole of my sophomore class at Bethany High School, there isn’t a girl who’s more odd than me.
I can see it in their eyes when they look at me. The other children at school. The boy with the kind face doing the bags at the grocery store. Even my teachers side-eye me when I walk into the classroom and sink into a desk in the back in the hope it will stop everyone from staring at me. I have gotten used to the stares, but I do not particularly enjoy them.
Do you see that creepy girl? they whisper. That’s Francesca Russo. Francesca Firestarter. Eight years ago, she burned a guy. Lit his dead body on fire at his own funeral. They laugh, they shout. Hey Francesca, he was dead anyway. What was the point?
While their words are mean, it is true. I did exactly what they said I did. But what is also true, but what nobody cares to believe, is that I didn’t burn him because I’m crazy.
I burned him because he asked me to.
I was eight years old on the day of George R. Haggarty’s funeral. The service was boring—I remember that much. George Haggarty died not long after my mother, and I remember not being pleased being back in the pews, sandwiched between my father and brother, smelling of wood polish and sanctity and listening to strangers give speeches full of words I didn’t understand. Next to me a woman was crying silently. I watched her chest heave, saw her tears flow, and felt nothing. Death, as a concept, had never been elusive to me, even when I was eight. Once people die, they exit their bodies and transform into versions of themselves made of mist and moonlight. I can’t touch them. Most people don’t even see them. They wander the earth until they fade away and sink back into its fabric after a few years. Sometimes more, sometimes less. My friend Mrs. Lewis has lived in the cemetery for close to ten years, but when my mother died she faded away before I even got a chance to see her. My heart squeezed at the thought.
I missed her. I wished I could still see her. Even the afterlife isn’t fair.
The service ended. My father knew the Haggartys quite well, so he wanted to stay for the reception. I stood beside him and trained my eyes on an old photograph displaying the two owners of the Eugene J. Haggarty Funeral Home. I was pretty sure George was one of Eugene’s sons. It must be awfully hard, having to put makeup on the dead body of your own son, I thought, as I leaned up and brushed my fingers against the glass. The embalmers put makeup on bodies for their funerals. At least, that’s what Mrs. Lewis told me, because she was not fond of the way they painted her face for hers.
I glanced around the room. Heavy-shouldered guests passed around hors d’oeuvres and condolences.
That’s when I first heard the moaning. A horrible, hideous groaning, like someone was in so much pain that the sound had to force its way out of them. I checked to see if my father had reacted to the noise. But he did not flinch.
The moan sounded again—louder this time.
I wandered over to my eleven-year-old brother Richie, who was wrapping pigs-in-a-blanket into a paper napkin and stuffing them into his pockets.
I tugged on the back of his puckered dress shirt. “Do you hear that sound?”
Richie spun around. I had pulled his tie against his throat from behind as he was trying to swallow, and now he was making choking sounds of his own, almost in harmony with the groans. It was actually quite funny. I let out a shrill laugh, and heads turned.
“Quit it, Frankie. For Christ’s sake.” Richie’s cheeks bulged from the pigs-in-a-blanket and he sprayed me with half-chewed bits.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you. Do you hear that strange sound?”
“Ain’t no crying.”
I gestured to his pockets. “Does Daddy know you’re taking those?”
“You tell him, and I’ll kill you.” He jabbed his fat finger into my face, and I giggled. “I will. I’ll smother you in your sleep.”
Richie walked away to go talk to his friends. I began to follow him when I heard another groan.
Claire Fraise earned her B.A. in English from Tufts University. She is also the author of YA dystopian novel Imperfect (winner of the San Francisco and Beverly Hills Book Festivals), which she published when she was 16. When Claire’s not writing, she likes crocheting amigurumi animals, reading, and hanging out with her dogs. Even though it goes against every introverted bone in her body, she is on social media. Connect with her on Instagram at @clairefraiseauthor, on YouTube at Write with Claire Fraise, or visit her website at clairefraise.com.