Book 10 of 2015: The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn

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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?

First off, The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall is a children’s book. It is a quick read, finished it within the day, probably about three to four hours of total reading time. However, this doesn’t make the book any less creepy.

It is a creepy book. The ghost reminded me a bit of Catherine’s ghost from Wuthering Heights. The setting and the mention of orphaned children reminded me of The Secret Garden. Both books are great in their own right, but mixing the two together? I would have thought improbable, but The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall was a similar enough book that I would say was a love child between the two.

Florence is a smart girl. She’s well read, slightly unmannered, but a young girl. She moves to her uncle’s home and it isn’t long after that she meets Sophia. I like Florence. She mentions various adult books that were also on my mind as I was reading. I like to think Hahn was noting her own influences when she was writing through Florence’s own literary mentions.

Sophia was a ghost befitting a horror movie. She had all the workings for it: a dark history, a terrible death, and an even more vengeful afterlife. How Hahn was able to make this dark and twisted character light enough for a children’s book, I have no idea. Sophia is seriously creepy. Ghost children are disturbing enough as it is, but a ghost child with a vendetta? I give up.

The book didn’t have anything too scary in it, just enough for me to creep out. However, it may scare the bejeebus out of your little one. That said, I am keeping this book. I think it would be a perfect Halloween or old English traditional ghost story time. If you read it out loud, you could probably scare yourself more than reading it to yourself. You may also freak out the children and children at heart.

Will I read this again? Definitely. Will I read this to Bug? Oh, most assuredly. Will I revisit this author? How can I not?! A great creepy story that is fun.

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