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The Time of the Ghost

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,045 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
In this complex fantasy, a ghost who does not know her identity -- only that she is one of four odd, unhappy sisters, whose negligent parents run a modern-day English boys' school -- must save herself from an evil goddess that the sisters have unknowingly summoned.... Engaging.... A wonderful, bizarre tale that readers will not soon forget.
Published September 1st 1997 by HarperTrophy (first published 1981)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Melissa McShane
Is it just coincidence that Diana Wynne Jones's creepiest book is also her 13th published?

The unnamed, bodiless narrator knows only two things: that she is one of four sisters, and that there's been a terrible accident. She follows the sisters around, trying to discover which one she is, and finds more questions than answers. Where is middle sister Sally? What does the Worship of Monigan--a funny game Cart, the oldest sister, made up that has sinister undertones--have to do with her present cond
This is a walk on the darker side for the usually light-hearted Diana Wynne Jones. The titular ghost is one of a family of four sisters - only she doesn't know which one. As the ghost observes her family (richly characterized by Jones), she slowly figures out which sisters she is and what happened to her, and she discovers that she has the power to prevent something terrible from happening: the fulfillment of a bargain the sisters made with the mysterious goddess Monigan, whom the sisters though ...more
Nov 09, 2012 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, mystery
It's quite strange reading this after reading the Reflections collection, knowing how autobiographical this happens to be. And how things that really happened to Diana Wynne Jones had to be toned down to be at all believable in the story. Of course, it still has that expansive, slightly breakneck pace of most of Jones' work -- there's something a little, well, mad about it. Colourful. I don't know how to describe it -- it's a swirl of colours and impressions. A child's imagination.

I read this al
Kevin Fanning
Mar 19, 2014 Kevin Fanning rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
GUGHGHGHGHGGH. So creepy and hilarious and great? How do you even write a book like this. HOW DO YOU GET IT PUBLISHED.

Our hero here is a ghost. She's not sure why she's a ghost, or who she is, but she senses something's wrong, and she has to fix it. She figures out that she's part of a family of 4 sisters, but isn't quite sure (for like _90%_ of the book) which sister she is.

The trick of a narrator who has to solve a mystery but who doesn't even know who she is blows my mind. How the author pu
Diana Wynne Jones is one of the best, respected, but vastly unknown fantasy authors out there. Despite this trying to find her in a bookshop is like wringing water from a stone. She is overshadowed by all the other fad-of-the-month books, which is such a shame as she’s a good, quality author.

I don’t know why. Maybe it is because she hasn’t really written many big series, apart from Chrestomanci and she can never be trusted to write them in chronological order either. Or maybe it’s because there’
Jan 01, 2015 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ya, memory, younger
I need to reread this one, I think it confused me when I was a kid. There were some sisters whose parents ran a boarding school and didn't take care of them. And a witch? A ghost? The ghost of witch? Something evil and scary, anyhow.
Nov 08, 2010 Verena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who has read a couple of books by Diana Wynne Jones knows that anything can happen and the explanation in the end is almost never the one you expected it to be in the beginning. This is true for Time of the Ghost, too, and although it certainly is not Diana Wynne Jones' best book, it was nonetheless great fun to watch the story unfold and find out what's behind all the strange goings-on.

I agree that it is to a certain amount darker than her other books, a little more disturbing, too. I've
Mar 11, 2011 Hirondelle rated it really liked it
Very strange YA fiction, with a typically DWJ complex plot, and an unreliable narrator (not spoilerish, she is openly confused from the start).

But what makes this truly remarkable is the portrayal of the parents, some of the most appalling incompetent evil by neglect parents I ever read about in fiction - though truth being stranger and far more appalling than fiction it echoes media account of real life cases and DWJs recollections of her own, and her sisterss childhoods.

Not sure how good it
Oct 27, 2008 Sean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, non-us
All of Diana Wynne Jones's books annoy me in some way. This is apparently a cosmological law. They are all flawed, most of them are disjointed, and while reading them I am constantly distracted as I rewrite the plotting and characterization in my head. But all of her books are intriguing and inventive, and they are all distinctively "Wynne-Jonesian."

The Time of the Ghost is no exception to any of these rules. It's part mystery, part ghost story, part growing-up tale, part dark fantasy, and when
Raquel Laforet
Feb 10, 2016 Raquel Laforet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Tengo la impresión de que el libro tiene un aire más infantil al principio que al final. Llega un punto (y sé exactamente cuál es) en el que la historia se vuelve más compleja de repente, y aunque como niña, no creo que hubiera tenido problemas entendiéndola, entre el final agridulce que tiene y el ritmo con el que va y viene a partir de ese punto, creo que me habría parecido una historia más terrorífica que al leerlo ahora. Aunque claro, las historias para niños de Gaiman también tienen ese pun ...more
Mar 04, 2015 Alethea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finally have a spare moment (or so I tell myself, refusing to look at the stack of assignments glaring at me…) to catch up on four months worth of reviews, and it feels good to get back on track. As always, my usual disclaimer: please keep in mind that it has been a considerable while since I’ve read this.
The Time of the Ghost definitely hit the creepy factor for me. After putting down the book, a chill lingered in my bones. It was a new sensation for an avid Diana Wynne Jones reader, though
Zach Sparks
*Contains the usual rambling spoilers.*

It's been so long since I read this book that this was almost a fresh read. I do remember being confused the 1st time I read it because I didn't quite work out that the small things that the children gave to Monigan were meant to represent different things. What I mean is, Monigan cheated, and instead of only taking the items at face value, she also stole what they could represent. Monigan is greedy and will always to try and take whatever she can get. Will
Oct 15, 2012 Sistermagpie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, kiddie-lit
Totally fascinating story about a ghost (or is she a ghost?) forced to work out the mystery of her own existence. It kept me guessing, but at the same time it's not really about the answers, at least not factually.

The central story is about a family of sisters essentially raising themselves while their neglectful and abusive parents run a school. I have a feeling this might be somewhat autobiographical, but whatever the inspiration, the family is wonderfully idiosyncratic. The girls hate each ot
Airiz C
This is my earliest Jones book and I remember liking it very much. Not as much as I loved the author's other works though (i.e. Howl's Moving Castle and Hexwood). I always have a penchant for deliciously dark tales, especially the kind that confuses the readers in a good way and in so many levels.

The Time of the Ghost is a perplexing story, the main reason being the unreliability of the narrator who is a ghost. She doesn't know who she is. The only things that she's sure of are 1) an accident h
the scarecrow
May 02, 2013 the scarecrow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this one back in high school, if I remember correctly, but I think I was too stupid to understand it properly. I picked it up again because I have en endless faith in Diana Wynne Jones...and I mostly just wanted to prove to myself that she can write, after the totally yawn-inducing Merlin Conspiracy.

I like this a lot better now than I did as a kid. I can keep up with the time jumps better and I'm less emotionally dependent on the characters, which allows me to keep an eye out for th
Jun 26, 2013 Leah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, magical
Re-read 24 June 2013: A book to be enjoyed in great big vacuuming gulps. I read this one a few times in my teens - my favourites were always the ones that fell on the list 'For older readers' (see also Fire and Hemlock and Hexwood).

A spooky, endearing, bite-sized story of four neglected sisters who live at a boy's school that is run by their parents (telling this story now, in a post-Twilight boy-obsessed world, would be a very different beast...), with genuinely terrifying undertones. Monigan
Jul 14, 2015 Magali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-reread
The first time I read this book I thought the best part about it was the brilliant and subtle way this unusual ghost story unfolds: "There's been an accident," it begins, and we (and the titular ghost) spend the next few hundred pages trying to trace the steps that led there.

In other words, the first time I read this book, I read it as a ghost story with deep roots in mythology that was told exceptionally well. And it is certainly that (in fact it's a master class in how to make the most of a t
Isabel Bitterblau
Qué imagen más equivocada me hice de este libro!

Como lo encontré por la sección infantil de la biblioteca de mi barrio, me esperaba algo totalmente diferente y ha terminado siendo una historia algo más oscuras que a las que Wynne me tiene acostumbrada (no demasiado, sigue siendo un libro juvenil).

Para empezar, la protagonista es un fantasma, que no sabe exactamente quién es ni de qué ha muerto. Sabe que es una de las hermanas Melford, pero no exactamente cuál, y durante todo el libro intenta des
Nicole Tan
Oct 29, 2015 Nicole Tan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janna Craig
Mar 25, 2016 Janna Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't decide what I think about this book. It's definitely different from any other DWJ book I've read. The mystery was well done. Especially the way (view spoiler) However, it felt like there were a lot of complicated family dynamics that were left largely unexplored. ...more
2 stars (Read 2 June 2016)

Diana Wynne Jones' works almost always make me have a headache (but in a good way). They are marketed as YA/Children, but really, the complexities of her novels would confuse even adults/older readers. Her plots, on surface, seemingly seems to be straightforward, but there are many, many hidden meanings that one has to carefully read in order to understand the plot completely. Every time one understands the hidden meanings, one would feel as though he/she has seen the l
On the one hand, this is a Diana Wynne Jones book, which meant I would have a good chance of loving it. On the other hand, it's not her best. On one hand, it's it's an anger-inducing tale of child abuse and neglect, but on the other hand, it's actually toned down from the truth of Jones' real upbringing. I'm glad I knew a bit about her life beforehand, for had I not known it to be autobiographical I would have been appalled and disturbed about how a children's book could contain such cruelty. Th ...more
☪♥Magic Love Wonderland☯♥Love☮
It's like once you're on a rollercoaster or you start to run; you just can't stop until you're at the very end. It was basically just like that.

Oh wow this was so good. In the beginning I felt the creeps (perhaps I shouldn't have read it so late before bed) and just couldn't put it down until my eyes shut on their own..
I just had to know what is going to happen, 'who' the ghost is and what happened to her after that.
Feb 02, 2011 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another one of my all-time childhood favourites by Dianna Wynne Jones. I've forgotten how many times I read this story as a child, but I will never forgetten certain descriptions which have stayed with me since the first reading - and I definitely won't forget how terrified I was as a young reader, afraid to go to sleep before reaching the end. I remember even the cover art kept me awake at night!
Oct 27, 2014 Aelvana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not her most convoluted piece of work, but it certainly is challenging enough to beg a reread when I get the chance. So many things will probably click the second time around. I am amazed at how dark she can write children's books, how utterly awful many of the characters are---some of them in that underhanded way that takes a good many pages before you realize there's something not quite right about that one. The family she writes about is absolutely awful, every last member, but at the sa ...more
Jul 01, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ya
YA, but a great read all the same. A forgotten goddess and four almost-forgotten sisters collide, and terrible trouble can only be averted by a little judicious time travel. I love the characters of the sisters, all of whom have such distinct and interesting personalities that I never confused them for a moment.
Camilla Chester
I was recommended this writer as I am trying to write a book at the moment that jumps about in time, altering future events and I am finding it difficult to hold the strands together.

I found the plot of The Time of the Ghost quite confusing. It was the story of a ghost who was trying to make sense of a childhood memory of dabbling in black magic. It jumped from present to seven years previous. It was difficult to know what was real and what was fantasy.

It was set in a boys boarding school in ce
May 05, 2015 Csilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
when your bathroom-shelf decides to give in to gravity, while you are reading about a blood sacrifice, possibly resurrecting an evil spirit - there is a definite chance you won't get your beauty sleep that night.
anyway. awesomeness. not exceedingly (a.k.a. Darren Shan) dark, frightening and disgusting - just enough of those, plus family drama and plot twists. unpredictable ones.
the only thing I'm less enthusiastic about, is... SPOILER alert: there was some kind of time-travelling which I really
I think reading this book right before going to sleep was a mistake. The ending is rather creepy, which I didn't expect at all. In fact, I didn't expect most of what happened in it - there's somewhat of a twist in the middle.
Jan 07, 2010 Genevieve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite D WJ. Fantastical and mysterious, and at the same time a brilliant portrait of the stuggled-up children of eccentric neglectful parents. (Of course this is the author's most auto-biographical book).
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Diana Wynne Jones was the author of more than thirty critically acclaimed fantasy stories, including the Chrestomanci series and the novels Howl's Moving Castle and Dark Lord of Derkholm.

For Diana Wynne Jones's official autobiography, please see
More about Diana Wynne Jones...

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