The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn
Publisher: Clarion Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (160 pgs)
Rating: 4 suns
Reviewed by Alyssum
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?
This is a great scary ghost story for young readers from author Mary Downing Hahn, who has a knack for giving readers a creepy story without frightening them.
This book is set in 19th century England and starts off in true creepy fashion with a stormy night, a long walk, and a scary looking old house. Florance is a orphan and did not think she had any relatives, then finds out she has a great uncle and great aunt who live in Crutchfeild Hall. The uncle sends for her and is delighted to have her staying with them, but the aunt is not. Florance bears a slight resemblance to Sophia, her cousin who died in a tragic accident almost a year earlier. She also learns that her cousin James, who is not well, never comes out of his room and it is off limits for her to visit.
As soon as Florance arrives she feels as if she is not alone in this creepy old house, but she shakes off the feeling because she figures that it is probably just due to being in a new home. Her uncle loves having her around but the aunt never wants anything to do with her, so she usually spends a lot of time in the sitting room reading. Then one day she fears the ghost of Sophia is haunting the place but her uncle doesn't believe in ghost.
Sophia was not as nice as her aunt thought her to be and her evil spirit is trying to get Florance to help her with her evil skim. Will Florance be able to find the will power to fight against Sophia and save her cousin James?
Mary Downing Hahn has a great way with drawing you into her stories. With such incredible details it comes out almost like being told a ghost story over a camp fire at night. You can't help but want to know what else is going to happen. When Florance sets out for Crutchfield Hall it is a nasty, stormy winter day and the descriptions in the story are perfectly written to capture a young reader's imagination. "Wind and rain struck me with a force that almost knocked me down." "Frightened by the creaking and groaning of tree limbs over my head, I walked faster, almost losing my shoes in the mud." These are the types sentences that will send the reader pressing on to find out what is going to happen.
The book has a true nineteenth century feel with its old houses, spooky haunts and, of course, the nasty aunt who thinks Florance is nothing but bad even when she hasn't done anything wrong. I would recommend this book to anyone who has young readers who love a good ghost story.