Let's Kill Uncle
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Let's Kill Uncle

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  170 ratings  ·  56 reviews
When recently-orphaned Barnaby Gaunt is sent to stay with his uncle on a beautiful remote island off the coast of Canada, he is all set to have the perfect summer holiday. Except for one small problem: his uncle is trying to kill him.Heir to a ten-million-dollar fortune, Barnaby tries to tell everyone and anyone that his uncle is after his inheritance, but no one will beli...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 1963)
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Nancy Oakes
As the novel opens, two children are wreaking havoc aboard a ship: leaving blueberry pie on a sofa which was sat on by a retired admiral wearing white, spilling ink on the captain's charts, and throwing salad in the dining room among other nefarious deeds. The crew can't wait to see them disembark and make their way down the gangplank to The Island, located in Canadian waters. They have come to The Island for their summer holidays -- Barnaby is supposed to meet and stay with his uncle there; the...more
Mar 01, 2009 Abby rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Lemony Snicket and Edward Gorey
Shelves: children-s
A deliciously wicked read. Two bratty, friendless children are sent to live on a verdant island in British Columbia for the summer, where they live a seemingly idyllic existence -- playing pranks on the hapless villagers who are unused to young children in their midst, exploring the forest, beaches and abandoned orchards, and growing fat on luscious home-cooked farm meals. Sounds like a typical kid's book, right? Wrong. For Barnaby and Christie are not your average kids up to no good -- they're...more

First of all, Rohan O'Grady is a woman writing under a male pen name. YOUR WORLD JUST ENDED.

Hailed as a dark humor, I read this book almost exclusively because of the title. This book in fact is less dark than I expected, with more "rumors of evil" than evil acts appearing in the book. I have to say, Uncle was by far the most endearing, delightful, and terrifying character. But he is watered down in other stuff ""Rohan"" wants to say about evil in everybody, evil in nature, etc. and etc. I also...more
You know you're in for a decent ride when the protagonist of the novel you're reading is a ten-year-old named Barnaby Gaunt. Barnaby is convinced his creepy uncle is planning to kill him. Unfortunately, although he's absolutely right, no one believes him -- no one, that is, except his friend Christie. Together, with the reluctant help of a damaged and ill-tempered panther named One Ear, they decide to turn the tables on Uncle.

"Let's Kill Uncle" is a pitch black comedy very reminiscent of "A Hig...more
Rachael Eyre
Let's Kill Uncle has one of the weirdest premises - and certainly one of the best blurbs - I've ever heard. To summarise, Barnaby and Christie are a pair of boisterous, lonely children who form a tight bond on holiday. Barnaby is orphaned, heir to a fortune, and convinced his creepy uncle wants to do away with him. The eminently practical Christie reasons they should kill Uncle first.

This is ostensibly a kids' book, but if so, it's the darkest and most sophisticated I've read. It's no spoiler to...more
When wild-child Barnaby and dour Christie come to a small island on the Candian coast for the summer, theirs is no ideal holiday: unbeknowst to the islanders, Barnaby's uncle is trying to kill him and inherent the family fortune. Since no one else will help them, the children set out to solve the problem themselves and kill Uncle first. Let's Kill Uncle is a dark comedy delight. It's reminiscent of A Series of Unfortuate Events (and if there's any one drawback, it's that it make me want to read...more
Susan Kavanagh
Originally published in 1963, this novel tells the story of two bright, devious, difficult children sent to a small, remote island off the coast of Vancouver, Canada, for their summer vacations around the early 1950’s. It is hard to characterize this fascinating book. At first it appears to be a charming tale of how the boy and girl grow and evolve after being exposed to the fine denizens of this island and, indeed, this is part of the narrative. The more intriguing plot line is how the children...more
One of the oddest books I've read. Two Canadian children are in fear of their lives, convinced (not without reason) that the psychopathic uncle of one of them is out to kill them both, but unable to convince any adults to take them seriously. So they plot to murder him first.
Every character is an oddball; from the couple at the store who believe Barnaby is their lost son re-born, to the love-sick mountie and even the children themselves. On the one hand, they're not particularly likeable - but t...more
A delightful and odd read! I did so enjoy being on this little Canadian island, and loved the adventures of Christie, Barnaby, One Ear and hunky Sgt. Coulter. Uncle is certainly as wicked as he sounds. It's an easy read but it does excite you throughout. Little things: loved all the descriptions of food (the fresh salmon, the raspberry vinegar!), winced at the occasional reference of native people to savage (not sure if it was intentional), and did note the book played out in the backdrop of pos...more
This book is a treat. Just like candy. Loved the local setting - know all the places and love the Northwest flavour. Somehow the book doesn't come off as Canadian, but has more of a British feel. It made me think a little of Alan Bradley's writing (Flavia de Luce), in the sense that it is great fun, and approaches things that would be horrific and nasty in real life with light-heartedness - two children planning to kill their Uncle? A nice, light read.
Rather obscure gem. Well worth perusing, an engaging mystery surrounding two children in Western Canada. I have not seen the book since my mother read it to me many, many years ago and although my memory fails to recall details I do remember that I anxiously awaited each chapter.
Let’s Kill Uncle by Rohan O’Grady was billed as a dark, whimsical book,” far ahead of its time.” Since, I wasn’t around when this book was first published in 1963, I’d have to believe the life was relatively dull then - especially in Canada. (Sorry, Canadians.) Although, maybe this read is as previously described and I’ve still visions of Christopher Moore’s Fool dancing in my head. That book is the epitome of dark whimsy.
A short synopsis of Let’s Kill Uncle
Children will be children, but is it...more
Nicola Mansfield
A mistake people may make with this book is assuming that with the two main characters being ten years old that the book is going to be *for* children. Well, it most certainly is not. Barnaby and Christie are the focal characters and the action surrounds them but it is the secondary adult characters whom the reader is given more insight into their personalities, their backgrounds, what makes them tick. This is a Gothic story, quite morbid, and everyone has a tragic story, but there is black humo...more
First heard about this book from an article in The Believer and instantly knew that I wanted to read it.

Let's Kill Uncle is built around the idea of good and twee-evil. The story presents an idyllic location for a charming coming of age story and populates it with an odd assortment of people. The kids themselves are hellions-in-training and cut a swath of pranks and minor havoc from one end of the island to the other. But when real evil comes to the island, the adults won't believe them, and it...more
“The children loved the little church; it was such a pleasant, peaceful spot in which to plan a murder.”[return][return]Let’s Kill Uncle is a cheery little book that will leave you warm and spongy inside.[return]Written in 1963 by West Coast Canadian author Rohan O’Grady (the pen name of June Skinner), it is an adventure-mystery that perhaps was aimed at young adults but is more than dark and outré enough for all audiences.[return][return]Set on an unnamed Gulf Coast island off of British Columb...more
Elisha Condie
I once picked up a water bottle and took a big swig only to find out it was ethyl alcohol some fool at the dental school had packaged IN a water bottle and my husband brought home and set on the kitchen table. That brief moment I had the ethyl alcohol in my mouth, and the subsequent moments I spent spitting and rinsing my mouth out is what I kept thinking of as I read this book.

Because other GoodReads reviewers LOVED it. And I love Bloomsbury Group. I keep thinking that ALL their books are go...more
Two high spirited children thrown together on an idyllic island populated by benign adults would be typical children's fare, but Rohan O'Grady's children spend their summer vacation plotting the murder of a homicidal maniac. The juxtaposition of descriptions of the island and its eccentric inhabitants with the practical matter of how to get away with murder are delicious: sweet and salty.

Barnaby, heir to millions who has been terrorized by his murderous uncle all his life, and Christie, who is...more
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"The children loved the little church; it was such a pleasant, peaceful spot in which to plan a murder."

In this delightfully dark little tale two 10 year olds, Barnaby and Christie, are spending their summer on a remote Canadian island. Unfortunately for them, none of the adults charged with their care are willing to believe that Barnaby's charming uncle wants him dead. They decide to take matters into their own hands when it becomes apparent they cannot depend of the adults, or the law, to keep...more
I won this in a first read giveaway when I was doing a lot of reading. But by the time it got here life was busy again and it took me awhile to get around to it. I'm glad it finally came off the shelf. This book is a re-issue of a book written in the 60's and set post-WWII, so it should be no surprise that its an old-fashioned kind of story. I mean that in a good way.

Let's Kill Uncle has a pleasant mix of fantastic elements, realism and suspense. The darkest elements of the story are hinted at m...more
Oh, the Brits and their black humor. Sometimes they get so dark it freaks me out...even when I'm giggling.

"Let's Kill Uncle" was written in 1963 (now republished by The Bloomsbury Group, which publishes out-of-print treasures) and Rohan O'Grady is sort of the anti-Gene Stratton Porter. Her little hero and heroine - Barnaby Gaunt, sullen, grubby and devilishly inventive, and Christie, belligerent, evil-tempered and cynical - come to a remote Canadian island to spend the summer. Christie is a city...more
The lovely thing about this book comes from the simplicity of the narration. I thought, at first, I wouldn't like the alternating perspectives, but in the end, that's what made me love the thing. Even though it's told in the third person, the reader benefited from the perspective change because each character had a completely unique outlook on the situations before them, and, without those shifts, I don't think the story would have been told as well.

I loved the story and Barnaby's determination...more
I got this book at North Carolina's best store for new new books, The Literary Bookpost. William Castle made a movie based on this novel, which I DVRed off TCM a while back. Watching the gawdawful film, I could still tell there was a great story that had been obliterated by Castle's greasy fingerprints. So when I spied a copy at the bookstore, I cheerfully snapped it up and started reading it while my husband drove home. Over the next 2 days, I kept waking up in the middle of the night, impatien...more
Barnaby and Christie are both sent to the small island off the coast of Canada to spend the summer. Christie has been sent by her hardworking mother to stay with "The Goat-Lady" of the island, while orphaned heir Barnaby has been sent by his uncle.
The two can't stand one another, but being the only children, they are forced to rely on each other for company. When Uncle arrives for a weekend it upsets Barnaby so much that he tells Christie why he is afraid of being around Uncle, and the two decid...more
This book has a magical feeling and a fantastic atmosphere. The way the author describes the scenery in what brings that effect. I felt a variety of emotions while reading this book. Most of them related to the characters. For example, I got upset at the the sergeant for not believing the kids. I loved the Goat Lady, she is so lovely and loving. I also was scared of Uncle, he is a very dark character with a double face. When I read the passage where it describes how Uncle killed Bernaby's family...more
Jun 07, 2011 Wordwizard rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wordwizard by: Mom
An--interesting book. The blurb makes it sound like a whimsical adventure story--the kid's uncle is going to kill him, so he and his friend plan to kill the uncle first, and there's a one-eared cougar involved somehow too. The first few pages come across like a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book, one of the good ones, where she reforms kids by tricking them rather than by using magic. But there's a certain amount of magical realism (the cougar's internal monologue, the questionable humanity of the uncle--i...more
Once I started thinking about Let's Kill Uncle as more of a children's book than an adult book (despite the sinister plot), I enjoyed it a lot more because certain elements seemed more natural, like the anthropomorphism of the cougar, the demonic villainy of Uncle, the caricature-like quality of all the characters. The children's selfishness and delight in anarchy was really quite funny, and the story, though lacking any real substance, was a fun ride. Perhaps there was too little to the plot to...more
Bill Fletcher
This may be the weirdest book I've ever read (and I think I've read a fair number of odd books). It sets itself up as a children's story, but it very definitely is not. It's sort of about the loss of innocence and sort of a mystery, but he only innocents are some of the adults and you know how it's going to end (mostly, at least) from the beginning. None of what happens in the middle is expected, however, and the story is fascinating. The uncle may or may not be a werewolf (he has hair on his pa...more
I won this book in a First Reads Giveaway.

This book doesn't clearly fit into any category but that makes it more fun. It reads rather simplistically, but the story has many pieces and they all fit together to make the whole story. Some parts read a little child-like (was Uncle really a werewolf or was that an overactive child's imagination?) but I think it was well done and the reader got a little bit of insight into the island and how it functions. I was a little put off by the cougar interlude...more
I’m not quite sure what it was about mid-Twentieth Century authors and their fear of children ("The Bad Seed," "The Other," "Village of the Damned," etc.), but this is another one where the kids are little killers. However, this one isn’t as simple as an evil child – we’ve got a nephew whose uncle really is trying to kill him and his gal pal. Where this could have slipped in to saccharine sentimentality, the author keeps the kids very real. I’d say the only flaw, besides the story being predicta...more
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Rohan O'Grady is the pseudonym for June Margaret O'Grady Skinner, who also wrote as A. Carleon.

O'Grady began writing poetry and stories as a young child and ventured into full-length fiction in her late thirties after her marriage to newspaper editor Frederick Skinner.

June Skinner has resided in West Vancouver since 1959.
More about Rohan O'Grady...
The Curse of the Montrolfes Let's Kill Uncle (The Bloomsbury Group) Bleak November O'Houlihan's Jest: A Lament for the Irish The May Spoon

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