Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Available: September 6th 2010
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pages: 162 (Hardcover)
Price: $11.49 Book Depository $11.56 Amazon
Synopsis: 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? (Goodreads)
Initial Thoughts: I went into this with reservations. I don't usually read middle-grade books, but I just kept reading great reveiws everywhere and I remember loving Mary Downing Hahn when I was younger. Also, vengeful ghosts are always fun.
Review: The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall was a very fast, easy read. Hahn's writing style is suspenseful, creepy, and very smooth. I expected it to be a bit harder to get into, due to the target age, but I was swept up pretty quickly. There was a definite Secret Garden feel to the book, except for the murderous ghost of a cousin who was evil even when alive. The ghost was actually my favorite character. Florence could be a bit too one dimensional (which happens a lot in MG books) and it was nice to have someone causing trouble to keep the other characters on their toes. The ending wasn't quite as I expected, but I liked it. There was room for doubt, which makes for a much more effective scary story. Nobody's going to be scared if the evil ghost is completely vanquished at the end. After finishing the book, I kept thinking about what a great YA book this could've made. The story itself was well-thought out and well-written, it was only the constraints of writing for younger readers that kept it from being truly terrifying. I would love to see Mary Downing Hahn jump into the YA genre.
Quick Review: A very creepy, quick read. I would definitely recommend it for younger readers, especially boys.