Left to cope with an alcoholic mother after the death of her father, fourteen year old Kim Baylor feels as though she has neither a future nor a past. While her mother vacations with a new boyfriend, Kim is dumped on the doorstep of her paternal grandmother's farm for an entire summer. Resentful and alone, Kim doesn't expect much in the way of excitement in rural Manitoba, but spooky sightings from her bedroom window and the legend of a murdered local landowner soon liven things up on Grandma Haley's farm. As Kim gets acquainted with her eccentric relative and colorful local characters she discovers a new future by uncovering the past.
This story has some marvelous characters and terrific dialogue. Haley Parish is a truck-driving, shotgun-wielding widow who totally throws the grandmother stereotype out the window. Her neighbors Jez and Harry are equally unique, and together they form the most unlikely group of paranormal researchers ever assembled. The inner turmoil that Kim feels because of her mother is gritty and real, and the strength of character she shows throughout the book is the special kind that only a fourteen year old can muster.
Hailing from the Canadian prairies myself, the slow-paced rural life depicted here really hits the mark, except there are waaaaay more spiders, mosquitoes, flies and other bugs around than the author lets on! Also slightly mystifying is the presence of full-grown wheat crops on Haley's land, when there are no farm hands or machinery around to plant it nor harvest it. Fortunately that didn't get in the way of a good story!
An unconventional setting and offbeat yet believable characters makes Shake The Spiders a nugget of Prairie Gold you'll want to pick up!