Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Young Adult Fiction Mysteries & Detective Stories


by (author) Deborah Kerbel

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Oct 2010
Mysteries & Detective Stories, Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural, Ghost Stories
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2010
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2010
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 15
  • Reading age: 12 to 15


2012 Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award — Shortlisted
2010 Cybils Award — Shortlisted

A Victorian garden, a fishing lure, and a ghost named John

Absolutely nothing is going right for Max Green. His parents have just uprooted their family from Vancouver to the bleak suburbs of Toronto, he has no friends, and everybody at his new high school is ignoring him. To make matters worse, he’s in love with an older girl who’s completely out of his league.

When Max discovers a local library rumoured to be haunted by ghosts, he’s immediately drawn to it. With the help of some cryptic messages, he begins to piece together the identity of the teenage ghost and the mysterious chain of events that have connected its spirit to the building for more than a century. But just who was John, anyway? Why has he chosen to contact Max? And what does an old fishing lure have to do with solving the mystery?

About the author

Deborah Kerbel is the author of several picture books, including Before You Were Born, When Molly Drew Dogs, and the award-winning Sun Dog, as well as novels for middle grade and young adult readers. Born in London, England, she moved to Canada at the age of two and went on to attend the University of Western Ontario. Her novels have been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association YA Book of the Year, and the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award. Deborah lives in Thornhill, Ontario, with her husband, two book-loving children, and a schnoodle named Alfredo.


Deborah Kerbel's profile page


  • Short-listed, Manitoba Young Reader's Choice Award
  • Short-listed, Cybils Award

Editorial Reviews

Demonstrating her skill as a writer, Kerbel is able to create two unique voices that combine to narrate the novel in a cohesive manner. Canadian readers, especially adolescents in the Greater Toronto Area, will be drawn to this true ghost story set in their own backyards.

Canadian Materials Magazine

Lure is a little gem. Looking for a shorter book to read that still packs a punch? Lure is your book.

The Bodacious Pen

This story will chill a skeleton of even a toughest adolescent!

The Elliot Review

Deborah Kerbels novel Lure is steeped in the stuff that makes up a good urban legend: a mystery with a twist at the end, an unsolved local murder, and a ghost story where the ghost tells of his own demise.

Canadian Childrens book News

The more I flipped the pages, the more I fell in love with the style and layers of the book.

Mrs. V's Reviews

Librarian Reviews

Lure: A Novel

Taken from stories of paranormal activity in the Thornhill Village Public Library, Deborah Kerbel’s novel Lure is steeped in the stuff that makes up a good urban legend: a mystery with a twist at the end, an unsolved local murder, and a ghost story where the ghost tells of his own demise.

Max is new to Thornhill and unhappy about the move, until he meets Caroline at the library where she and her Nana work. When she tells Max that the place is haunted, he skips class every Wednesday and returns to learn more, compelled by curiosity and a bit of a crush. John, who died as a adolescent, haunts the library that was once his home and seeks out Max’s help.

Telling her legend / ghost story in two distinct and alternating perspectives — a 100-year-old teen ghost, John, and a disgruntled modern-day teen, Max — Kerbel connects the stories of an invisible boy with a boy who feels invisible. Although Max’s voice feels a little forced, with overused italics and exclamation points to overemphasize how angry he is at the world, it is John’s old-fashioned, crisp, Dickensian tone that really lures you in.

Like any good mystery, Kerbel does an excellent job of distracting the reader from what is really going on. She keeps the action close to the haunted house, enticing us with the budding romance between Max and Caroline, and John’s drawn-out tale of murder. It is only in the final pages, that we learn the truth and realize that what we’ve been reading is another story entirely.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2011. Volume 34 No. 2.

Other titles by Deborah Kerbel