Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Old Willis Place : a ghost story by Mary Downing Hahn

This is one of the books I bought home from my school library to read over the summer holidays. It was one we purchased in 2009 and right from the opening scene it proved an intriguing book. If you really like scary ghost stories this one might be for you but be warned this book really is very scary. In fact I think this plot will linger with me for a long time. Diana and her brother Georgie live near an old run down mansion. Quite regularly new caretakers arrive to guard the mansion but this time it is a man and his daughter and right away Diana is excited at the prospect of a new friend.

The mystery of Diana and Georgie unfolds very slowly and all the questions I had as a reader kept me glued to the page. Who are these children? Where do they live? Where are their parents? What do they eat? If you have read any of my other blog entries you will know food is often one of my favourite parts of a book yet there is no mention of any food eaten by Diana and Georgie in The Old Willis Place only strange references such as the one on page 13 “It would be so lovely to sink our teeth into hot juicy food again.” Then on page 81 “ ‘You haven’t drunk your lemonade’, I pushed the glass away. ‘I told you I wasn’t thirsty. In fact I don’t even like lemonade.’ " and page 150 “Before I could protest, Mr Morrison set down two bowls and fixed a third for himself. The fragrance reminded me of my mother’s soup…. ‘I really can’t stay. I’m sorry.’ ”. These are some of the tantalizing hints that Diana and Georgie might not be just a couple of children from the local housing estate who like play in the manor grounds. This is a ghost story after all.

This is a book for very senior readers. The fate of Diana and Georgie is truly awful and so this is not a book for very sensitive readers. This author has lots of other titles so take look at her web site.

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