Must Love Black

Must Love Black, by Kelly McCylmer (2008, Simon and Schuster, 167pp, YA)

Here's what the advertisement said: "Nanny for 10-yr-old twins. Maine coast. Own room. Must love black." Philippa thought it sounded like the perfect way to escape her father's honeymoon with his cheerfully, un-black-loving new wife. The job seemed even better when the limousine, complete with hot young driver (who doubles as the estate's gardener), showed up to take her away from the wedding.

The mysterious mansion on the cliffs, being run as a deluxe spiritual health spa, is strange, perhaps, but certainly luxurious, and the twins, girls with the somber names of Triste and Rienne, don't seem like they'll be too much trouble. Philippa's main challenge is to get them to play, to enjoy life in a childlike way.

Like Philippa, however, the twins are still grieving for their dead mother. And their father has no time for them, his every minute managed by the mysterious and possibly clairvoyant woman who is one of the resort's main attractions. Then there is the small matter of the ghost, or ghosts...

And will Philippa end up in the arms of the gardener?

The cover of this book is rather misleading. Sure, it's gothic--foggy mansion with secrets type gothic, but Phillipa, even though she likes black, isn't particularly a Goth girl. And there are no pirates at all, despite the skull and crossbones. What this book is--an enjoyable read about bereavement (which sounds strange, but is true), being a nanny, and teen romance, in an interesting setting. The ghosts get very short shift. I kept expecting to plunge more deeply into the supernatural, but it didn't happen, and in general I was disappointed at the rather sudden ending.

Must Love Black is a Cybils nominee in the Sci. Fi./Fantasy category (because there are, after all, a few ghostly moments), but mainly it's a good, clean, fast YA read. I liked little Triste and Rienne very much!


  1. I'm intrigued! Thanks for the review. I'm off to request the book from my library...


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