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The Shadow Guests

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  111 ratings  ·  11 reviews
After the mysterious disappearance of both his mother and older brother, Cosmo is sent away to live with his eccentric mathematician aunt. Lonely and confused, Cosmo must also deal with being the new kid at school. Not an easy assignment! But things take a weird twist when Cosmo is visited by ghosts from the past. Ghosts who claim to need his help fighting an ancient curse ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 17th 2003 by Starscape (first published 1980)
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Matt Davies
After the disappearance of his mother and older brother Cosmo leaves his father in Australia and returns to the old family home in Oxford. There he not only has to contend with a new school and unwelcoming classmates, but the revelation of an ancient family curse and visits from ghosts - the 'shadow guests' of the title. The book deals with issues of change, loss and the difficulties faced in adapting to new situations. This is hardly an original premise - it seems like I read lots of books like ...more
This book is unexpectedly creepy, and even contains things that were quite shocking for me. She put this into a book supposedly for children? How would children deal with this? The thought of your mother and your older brother do something like that... I don't think I can just brush away such event from my mind. But Cosmo's experiences with the ancient curse, perhaps, prepared him to accept the fact better than most children would.

I like the part of how Cosmo tried to fit in school with its funn
After his mother and brother mysteriously disappear, Cosmo's father sends him from Australia to live with his mathematician aunt in England, where he must deal with being the new boy at school...and with the ghosts who appear to him around his aunt's house. Aiken entwines the natural and supernatural events cleverly and unfolds the mystery of the ghosts gradually; as always, she has a gift for making an imaginative plot seem convincing and believable. This isn't as good as the Dido books (the ea ...more
Oh, how Joan Aiken is worth coming back to again and again. This is a standalone novel about a boy whose father sends him to live with an English cousin after his mother and brother vanish into the Australian outback. Cosmo adores his cousin, and the old mill house in which she lives, but he has troubles at school and then, to make matters worse, creepy things start happening. His cousin fills him in on the terrible family curse--and it appears that the ghosts Cosmo sees are linked to this curse ...more
Joan Aiken was one of those writers who made the task of reading her books not a task at all, just a pleasure to slip between the sheets and lose yourself in the narrative. Her command of story and speech seems so effortless yet true to life. The story opens in a 20th-century airport, Heathrow, with a youngster waiting to be collected by a relative, an opening so unlike many Aiken novels as to feel incongruous. There is a mystery surrounding Cosmo's family back in Australia, a mystery which grad ...more
Austen to Zafón
I read this as a pre-read for my son, but I did enjoy it myself. It certainly is spooky and I liked the characters of his aunt and live-in housekeeper. I did find it difficult to believe that the main character could just "pick up" jousting, fencing, swordfighting, and such without any training. But overall, it was a fun read. Not her best, but better than a lot of the schlock published for YA readers these days. If you liked this, you'll no doubt love the Green Knowe series by L.M. Boston, whic ...more
A different sort of fantasy for Aiken, with a modern setting, which she pulls off nicely. I really liked the main character and his ghost friends, but I wanted more, and the real-life friends were a little flat. I liked the book, but thought it needed to be longer for the character development to be complete.
Feb 12, 2010 Logan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Why: I just pre-read this last night. It's a ghost story with some history added in and I enjoyed it. it even gave me the shivers! I think L will like this when he gets to be more the protagonist's age (10?). Pretty realistic portrayal of being the new kid at a school. It sucks. Been there many times.
Joan Aiken is always interesting. Where else are you going to find mentions of both the Domesday Book and Flatland in one YA story? I can't say I'm especially convinced by the ending, which is my main problem overall.
Anthony Faber
Good kids' book, even with the garbled science & math. It's an occult ghost/time travel story with a bad scientific gloss. As a story, it works, though.
I liked the ambiguity of the ending, which is rare in kids' books.
Marya DeVoto
This isn't up to the standard of Aiken's Saddle the Sea or her more famous works, but it's more-then-competent YA fantasy that combines a school story with spooky paranormal events and time-slip. There's even a family curse and some interesting discussions of how science can accomodate that sort of thing. I enjoyed it a lot.
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Joan Delano Aiken was a much loved English writer who received the MBE for services to Children's Literature. Her most famous classic, THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE,has been celebrating its 50th Anniversary with the publication of three brand new editions of the book and a new AUDIO recorded by her daughter Lizza.


More about Joan Aiken...
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Chronicles, #1) Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles, #2) Nightbirds on Nantucket (The Wolves Chronicles, #3) Jane Fairfax Arabel's Raven (Arabel and Mortimer, #1)

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