THE GHOSTS OF ROSE HILL
Young Adult, Peachtree Teen, 2022
Magic will burn you up.
Sent to stay with her aunt in Prague and witness the humble life of an artist, Ilana Lopez—a biracial Jewish girl—finds herself torn between her dream of becoming a violinist and her immigrant parents’ desire for her to pursue a more stable career.
When she discovers a forgotten Jewish cemetery behind her aunt’s cottage, she meets the ghost of a kindhearted boy named Benjamin, who died over a century ago. As Ilana restores Benjamin’s grave, he introduces her to the enchanted side of Prague, where ghosts walk the streets and their kisses have warmth.
But Benjamin isn't the only one interested in Ilana. Rudolph Wassermann, a man with no shadow, has become fascinated with her and the music she plays. He offers to share his magic, so Ilana can be with Benjamin and pursue her passion for violin. But after Ilana discovers the truth about Wassermann and how Benjamin became bound to the city, she resolves to save the boy she loves, even if it means losing him—forever.
With spellbinding verse prose, R.M. Romero channels the spirit of myth into a brilliantly original tale, inspired by her experiences restoring Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe.
★ "A magical realist romance told in verse explores the many transitions of life: from homelands to new homes, from childhood to adulthood, from life to death and back again. . . . combines modern adolescent concerns, magical realism, and religious themes in pristine verse. An ode to the Diaspora and to the many folktales and myths populating Ilana’s mixed heritage, Romero’s luscious work dives into dark, painful caverns and emerges in sprays of enthralling hope. A must-read for lost souls everywhere."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ "An intoxicating blend of the contemporary and otherworldly, Romero’s (The Dollmaker of Krakow) layered novel in verse interlaces romance and ghost story with an exploration of cultural identity, folklore, and history. . . . In lyrical, immersive language that’s both contemporary and ageless, Romero brings vivid life to the teenagers’ powerful romance."—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
★ Romero’s novel is beautifully written in heartbreaking verse. The blending themes of Jewish heritage, fairy tales, romance, monsters, and ghosts results in a rewarding read. Romero’s writing seeps into the deepest part of the reader, providing much to think about in regards to love and death, passion and heartbreak. . . . A modern folktale, a love letter to the diaspora, and a unique novel-in-verse, this work is recommended for all teen collections."—School Library Journal, Starred Review
★ "A lush and fantastical modern folktale in verse. . . . Romero delivers an original and anguished blend of music, magic and Judaic traditions. . . . While the setting is richly descriptive of Prague's history, Ilana's own heritage as a child of refugees and the diaspora beautifully informs the story. . . . [A] wistful and deeply symbolic tale of feeling seen and finding powerful connections to the past."—Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
"Romero's novel in verse combines Judaic tradition with fantasy and is divided into movements like a classical musical piece." —Booklist
"Dreamy verse makes for an organic introduction to ghosts and Jewish folklore but remains rooted in the history of Prague and Ilana’s struggles to negotiate her parents’ immigrant identities. . . . [A] mix of family drama, Jewish history, and the supernatural."—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Creepy though the premise is, the thought-provoking novel is more fable than horror, as its protagonist finds a balance between past and present."—The Horn Book
"A modern Märchen steeped in a century of history. Both the beautiful and the monstrous come to life in gorgeous verse prose and a story that will haunt me for years to come. Absolutely breathtaking." –Kip Wilson, critically acclaimed author of White Rose
"The Ghosts of Rose Hill merges folk tale with reality, examining through haunting, evocative verse how little space there is between mythic monsters and the ones we must face in this world. Completely memorizing." –Joy McCullough, acclaimed author of Blood Water Paint
"Filled with lush descriptions and soulful emotion, The Ghosts of Rose Hill doesn't shy away from delving into the darker side of Prague's history and lingered with me long after reaching the final page. Readers will find themselves captivated."–Aden Polydoros, author of The City Beautiful