Eleven-year-old Nathan Cole was never much of a reader—not until he discovered a mysterious bookcase hidden in the shadows of the attic. The bookcase had once belonged to his grandfather, a noted bookseller from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and it called to Nathan from the moment he first saw it—as if it had a mind of its own.Nathan soon learns that the books lining its dusty shelves have been saved for a reason: they each contain an unsolved mystery. Even more curiously, it seems that he doesn’t choose the books he takes from its shelves—they choose him. And now another book is calling to him. In it is a mystery that dates back to the 1800s—the baffling account of a boxcar that seemingly vanished into thin air—from a moving train—in a town that doesn’t exist. Only with the help of his best friend, Gina McDermott, can he hope to unravel a secret that has haunted a small New Hampshire town for generations.But they aren’t alone.Someone is watching.And waiting.
Review of The Phantom Vale, by Stanley Kozaczka | From “Switchback,” The Journal of the Lionel Operating Train Society (2018), Vol. 39, No. 3
“If Alfred Struthers intended his story to help keep his young (or not so young) readers reading, then I believe he has succeeded admirably in this tale with one foot in the 19th century and the other in the 21st.”
“The Phantom Vale” — it’s a ride you shouldn’t miss.”
“Struthers is a literacy advocate taking aim at young readers—a worthy cause. Though I am not a young reader, I was hooked!”