Friday, October 7, 2011

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall review

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall

When twelve-year-old Florence boards the horse-drawn coach in London, she looks forward to a new life at Crutchfield Hall, her great-uncle’s manor house in the English countryside. Anything will be better, Florence thinks, than the grim London orphanage she has just left.  Florence doesn’t reckon with the eerie presence that haunts the cavernous rooms and dimly lit hallways of Crutchfield. It’s the ghost of her cousin Sophia, who died the year before. Sophia’s ghost seeks to recreate the scene of her death and cause someone else to die in her place so that she will be restored to life. And she intends to force her newly arrived cousin to help her. (goodreads summary)

Florence has lived at Miss Medleycoate's Home for Orphan Girls since she was 5 years old when she lost both her parents in a drowning accident. She had no other family to live with until seven years later finds that she is the great-niece of Thomas Crutchfield. He searched a very long time for her and made arrangements for Florence to live at Crutchfield Hall with himself, his spinster of a sister and James, a cousin from her father's brother who also had become orphaned.  Unfortunately, James is very ill and in a fragile state. Not only had he lost his parents but after moving in at Crutchfield Hall, his older sister Sophia was killed in a tragic accident.  Once Florence arrives, she soon realizes she is not welcomed by her Great-Aunt Eugenie and finds that she places Sophia on a pedestal.  When Florence is taken to her new room for the first time, she feels an eeriness about the house, almost as if she is being watched and hears laughter in the halls.  Many strange and unusual things are about to take place behind the doors of this dark and creepy house.  Florence must find the mysteries behind Sophia's death before she can feel settled in her new surroundings and call this place home.

Just in time for halloween, this book will give kids spine tingling shivers. It had many exciting thrills for such a short story and I enjoyed this classic styled ghost tale. The words and characters had a wonderful 19th Century English feel to it and I loved the many references of classic book titles and authors. Hopefully young readers will recognize a few because they are quite old but popular enough for some titles to click.  When Florence encounters Sophia's ghost, it is evident that she was not only nasty in life but it carried over to her afterlife with a vengeance. Sophia is demanding and can make people say and do things beyond their control and Florence cannot seem to escape her bidding. Sophia entices Florence to visit James even though she knows it is forbidden. She finds James is also haunted by his sister and needs help releasing himself from her hold.  The adults in this story want to believe but not sure if they should believe? I think Sophia is written as an unhappy lingering spirit whose anger keeps her from crossing over to a more peaceful and better life.  It is the idea of her popping up at any moment and sensing James and Florence's fear of her anger and mind games whenever she is around that makes this story the scary page turner. What she really wants is for someone to pay for her untimely death so she can come back and live the life she was entitled to.  But who does she want and why? I felt it had a good beginning, climatic middle and a fast wrapped up ending. Everything a spooky ghost story needs to keep you on the edge of your seat.  Although, the end did leave me with questions wondering if there could have been more to finish the story or did the author leave room for a second book.  It was a simple, quick read and may capture the reader who likes psychological type ghost stories as well as the short length. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 10 and up.~

Title: The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall
Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Genre: fiction
Pub. Date: September 2010, Clarion Books
Hardcover, 153 pgs.

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