Monday, October 11, 2010

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Clarion Books; 1 edition (September 6, 2010)

Book summary: When twelve-year-old Florence boards the crowded horse-drawn coach in London, she looks forward to a new life with her great uncle and aunt at Crutchfield Hall, an old manor house in the English countryside. Anything will be better, she thinks, than the grim London orphanage where she has lived since her parents' death.

But Florence doesn't expect the ghost of her cousin Sophia, who haunts the cavernous rooms and dimly lit hallways of Crutchfield and concocts a plan to use Florence to help her achieve her murderous goals. Will Florence be able to convince the others in the household of the
imminent danger and stop Sophia before it's too late? 

My review: Florence, 12, is an orphan. Five years after her parents’ death, a man claiming to be her great uncle Thomas invites her to live with him, his sister, her great aunt Eugenie, and a cousin. And so Florence arrives at Crutchfield Hall in true Gothic style--in a downpour. She doesn’t care for the creepy house, the servants don’t say much, and Eugenie isn’t the caring motherly type she needs. In fact her great aunt doesn’t care for her. Florence is told her cousin, James, is bedridden and she isn’t allowed to see him. What she does sense is someone or something watching her. Spending time alone in the big, dark country house, Florence begins to hear the laughter of a young girl while she tries to read. Could that be the ghost of her cousin, Sophia, who died? The same cousin she resembles? Florence has heard gossip about the mean spirit. Are these rumors true? 

I’ve read other stories by Hahn and once again she keeps the creep factor steady with this novel. Aimed at the Middle Grade market, The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall is sure to set some imaginations going, heartbeats hammering, and fingers busy turning pages to see what happens to Florence. 

Cover comment: The spot of blood gives it a really creepy feel, so appropriate. I really like it and would definitely pick it up at a bookstore.

Rating: +++1/2

Book source: Digital copy provided by publisher and Netgalley

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