The Haunting of Josh Weston

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The Haunting of Josh Weston

“His haunted past drives him to battle the living and the dead for life and love—or death.”

Multiple Award-Winning YA Paranormal Thriller by Melinda Rucker Haynes

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Synopsis * First Line * Favorite Passage * Story Behind the Story * Awards * Reviews


After the death of his cousin and his father’s subsequent death in Afghanistan, former star athlete and gifted student, Josh Weston and his mother move to a desolate ranch in the Arizona desert. Josh blames himself for his father’s death and for the shooting of his best friend. Besides giving up on everything he used be great at, he is relentlessly bullied at his new school.

Unable to see any way out of his problems, he tries to end it all one moonlit night. Two of the mystical ranch’s ghosts stop him and pull him into dangerous tests of courage and intellect. Josh must learn to draw on his strengths and confront the haunted past that threatens his life and possible future with the beautiful and daring girl next door.

First Lines

“Kill him! Kill him!” rattled the voice in Josh Weston’s head. He dropped his fists and backed off, eyes on the big dude with a swelling lip that now curved into a relieved smirk.

Favorite Passage

Riding the Gold and Silver Ribbons through time and dimension. . . “You will not let anything hurt these kids, Peter McClure or, dead or not, I’ll get you and your crazy burro, too,” Mom promised through gritted teeth and turned to Carrie. “Josh and Pete will see you home. Enjoy your first guided ribbon ride, guys. And Pete, bring the boy back here, on the porch, in this time/space.” Mom opened the screen door and went in the house.

“Now what? Do we hold hands or something?” Josh took Carrie’s hand.

Pete stood up and shrugged. “Sure, why not. Now, think about where you want to go…”

The ghost, the boy and the girl blinked out.

Story Behind the Story

My parents bought a magical little ranch in a hidden desert valley off Old Hwy 66 in northwestern Arizona and invited me to ranch-sit before my college summer session began. I found myself wrangling assorted bitey and stinging livestock and mysterious visitors of the alive and maybe-not varieties. So began my interest in writing about things that really do go bump in the night, and in the daytime, too. Escondido Ranch is real!


Arizona State Library ONEBOOKAZ Literary Contest Best Young Adult Novel Winner

Two-Time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist—Best Young Adult Romance

EPIC Best Young Adult Novel EPPIE Award Nominee


Rated: 5 STARS

“Magical and moving. The Haunting of Josh Weston by Melinda Rucker Haynes is a powerful YA paranormal tale that offers lots of emotional insights and a message of hope to anyone who is suffering insecurities and bad memories. The action is quick-paced as the tension between Josh and the bully builds, but the relationship between Josh and Pete provides a timeless feeling and a sense of love and support that Josh’s mother just can’t provide by herself. With a subtle romantic element, there is just the right balance between the paranormal and the everyday to make the story quite believable and uplifting. Excellent story – kept me glued to the pages! The Haunting of Josh Weston is certainly well worth reading.”

Rated: 5 STARS

“Move over, Harry Potter, there’s a new kid in town—Josh Weston. In the tradition of Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling, author Melinda Rucker Haynes taps into every kid’s nightmare (bullies who make life hell) and fantasy (making sure they get their due). The reader wants to shout ‘hurray’ at the end of the book. Issues relevant to today’s teen—death, divorce, relocation—are handled in a sensitive manner, validating the feelings of isolation, guilt, and despair. The old prospector, who appears and disappears mysteriously, adds levity while dispensing wisdom. The preaching is left to Mom, who understands better than Josh can imagine. It’s easy to see why this book has twice been nominated Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist for Best Young Adult novel.”

Rated: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for ages 8-100!

“ … a twice-nominated RWA Golden Heart Award Finalist for Best Young Adult … full of danger, excitement, ghosts, and some trials of a young boy turning into a young man, the hard way.”


“This first of a series is a well-written, fast paced story. Lively characters, and action with lots of twists and turns, make this a really good read.”