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?
Gr 4-6-Hahn hearkens back to the Gothic horror novels of the 19th century with her latest ghost story. Crutchfield Hall is a gloomy old place, but after spending seven years in Miss Medleycoate's dour orphanage, 12-year-old Florence can only assume her new life there will be an improvement. In addition to her genial great-uncle, the manor's residents consist of Florence's severe great-aunt, Eugenie; her invalid cousin, James; and a few servants. The accidental death of James's older sister, Sophia, is believed to have triggered his current indisposition. Sophia's ghost continues to haunt Crutchfield Hall both figuratively and, as Florence soon discovers, literally. Far from the angelic creature idolized by Eugenie, Sophia proves to be spiteful, manipulative, and determined to avenge her death. While Hahn's literary references (including Dickens and the Bronte sisters) will likely go over the heads of the target age group, most kids will be too absorbed in the chilling atmosphere of the tale and Sophia's terrifying influence on the living world to care. A deliciously spine-tingling tale that even the most reluctant readers will enjoy.-Christi Esterle, Parker Library, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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September 06, 2010
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