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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Seventh Miss Hatfield is a young adult time travel romance written by Anna Caltabiano. Eleven-year-old Cynthia is very attached to her grandmother's doll, Charlotte, something that confuses her mother, as she recalls being more grownup at that age. Cynthia’s looking forward to dinner and a sleepover that evening at her friend Judy's house and will be leaving for Judy’s house soon. Then the postman mis-delivers a package which is addressed to the new neighbor across the street. At first, Cynthia thinks to leave it by the door for her mother to handle, but then realizing she has some time yet before she goes, decides to take it to the neighbor herself. The young woman who answers the door seems polite and pleasant. She invites Cynthia in for lemonade and, feeling quite grownup, Cynthia disregards her mother's warnings about strangers and steps inside. The interior of the house is strange and filled with old and mismatched furnishings, and the wallpapers are peeling and faded. When Cynthia, hearing a noise, follows her neighbor into the kitchen, she watches as the woman opens a dusty glass phial and pours a last remaining drop of liquid into a glass of lemonade. She then hands the glass to Cynthia, joking that she certainly wouldn't have poisoned it right in front of her. Then Miss Hatfield shows Cynthia an album of pictures from a steamer trunk, and she’s stunned when she realizes the pictures are of her and her family.
Anna Caltabiano's young adult time travel fantasy, The Seventh Miss Hatfield, is a marvelous gothic romantic thriller about a young woman's trip back into time to retrieve a portrait for her neighbor, and now, mentor. Cynthia handles the transformation from child to young adult with remarkable ease, and that flexibility stands her in good stead as she follows Rebecca's directions and enters the Beauford mansion. I had a grand time reading this novel which is set in New York City in the early twentieth century. Caltabiano captures the traditions of that time and examines the stresses of the relationships between the wealthy and their household staff quite well, making the historical aspect of the novel feel authentic. The burgeoning romance between Cynthia and Henley is sweet and inspiring, and watching as they share in the joys of young adulthood that neither had experienced before is poignant and moving. Fans of classic gothic romance will appreciate the author's homage to the Brontes and Du Maurier in this stirring and atmospheric historical romance. The Seventh Miss Hatfield is most highly recommended.