Set around the turn of the century (I'm guessing), Judith is an orphan (around 15 or so?) who is sent to go live with her uncle in the Carolinas. The household consists of herself, her stern uncle, and a jolly housekeeper. Her cousin, Charles, much older than herself, also semi-lives at home but also keeps some rooms in town.
The only condition of her coming to live with them is that she cannot bring anything green into the house. Nothing. The family does not even eat salads or green vegetables in the house -- no green allowed. This isn't a problem for Judith except for one thing: a green silk picture frame given to her by her mother. She hides the frame deep into her trunk and hopes that no one will find it.
(I would have had a problem with this as green is my favorite color and half my belongings would be green...)
Anyway, Judith settles in, and things seem to be going well. She gets a job at a hat shop in town, and begins to make some friends. But soon she starts to hear the gossip about the house she is living in. They say that a girl used to live there. Her name was Jade Green... and she killed herself. And the house is haunted.
Judith shivers these rumors off until she starts to notice strange things happening around the house. Little noises under her bed. Things slightly out of place. She suspects perhaps there is a supernatural hand at work... but does not realize how accurate she is until later!
In the meantime, her cousin Charles is becoming a lecherous problem. Always staring at her and provoking her, accusing her of stealing... he is clearly worried about his inheritance and wants Judith out of the picture. Also, apparently, wants her out of her clothes. Charles is icky. I have not run across a character quite so purely icky in awhile. He has no redeeming qualities.
Finally things start to swirl to a crisis point with both the supernatural presence and Charles. The way the ghost manifests is super-duper creepy, and Charles is pretty evil. He gets his just desserts in the end, which was satisfying.
I think this book falls into the YA camp, but clearly it's for young teenagers, just beginning to think about romance. There is a sweet budding romance in the book, but mostly it's a lean, mean, scary machine. I liked the old-fashioned setting and the characters were engaging and memorable (Judith, as narrator, is perhaps the least memorable, but that wasn't a problem for me). The ghost in the story was extremely effective and kind of shocking, which surprised me.
A perfect pre-Halloween read, easily read in an hour or so, and sure to send a couple shivers up your spine.