Dec 162015

Cover for Holly Messinger's The Curse of Jacob Tracy. The title on paper like an Old West wanted poster. Above, bats flying in front of a full moon. Below, the silhouettes of two cowboys surrounded by ghostly figures.Library Journal: Jacob “Trace” Tracy and Boz, his African American partner, are looking for jobs to tide them over until they get hired for their usual work of guiding wagon trains West. Wealthy Miss Fairweather of St. Louis employs them for what looks like an easy task: retrieving a box from a nearby town. Miss Fair- weather didn’t choose the duo by chance. She wants Trace for his ability to see the spirit world, a talent he has possessed (and hidden) since he was injured on the battlefield at Antietam. This first trip entangles Trace and Boz with the interests of a man of unusual talents and evil intent named Mereck, and even as Trace continues to take jobs for Miss Fairweather, Mereck’s attentions grow more dangerous. VERDICT Combining well-wrought historical fiction with just the right amount of scenic details and horror with its tense atmosphere, Messinger’s debut hits on a winning formula. The novel is structured almost like a serial, with different adventures and monsters in each section, but tied together by the friendship of Trace and Boz, and the continuing threats that the spirits pose for the relatively untrained Trace.