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The Ghost's Child

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  975 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
This magical story, told in the elevated tone of a fable, begins with a visit by a teenage boy to the home of 75-year-old Matilda. She tells him the story of her life with Feather, a man who lived by the sea. She speaks of her love for him and how, long ago, she had become pregnant but miscarried, and he left her.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 2008 by Walker Books Ltd
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Clare Cannon
Jun 14, 2010 Clare Cannon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults
Shelves: adults
Permit a philosophical review, for it is a philosophical book. It is a superbly written story that immediately submerges the reader in lyrical prose. The style is perfectly suited to the poetic theme which has the echo and poignancy of an age-old fable. Style and structure gradually build the narrative and leave the reader in anticipation of some great event, of some significant and completely transforming act.

My hope was that it would glorify complete selflessness, and show the beauty of giving
Apr 26, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fable fans
This was a fable :) I really liked Maddy, but with Feather I have some bones to pick. I do not get "Truth" from Feather the way Maddy did. I get isolation and omission. Maddy mentions that maybe it would have been better had she never met Feather. Personally, I'm in that camp. Maybe I'm too much of a realist. But come on! What did he bring to the table, really? He was mopey and impossible to communicate with, and dare I say it, PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE. And when she loses the Fay, what does he say? I' ...more
Oct 21, 2012 Nafiza rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I'm reading this for Contemporary Children's Lit and according to my Prof, this is "simply divine and unlike anything you have ever read." It sounds exquisitely painful.

For a novel its length, A Ghost’s Child is surprisingly heavy where the themes are concerned. The book deals with self-discovery in a multitude of ways. Before the story of Maddy and Feather even begins, Maddy sets off on a journey of self-discovery with her father. Maddy and her father travel around the world together, seeing wo
I’d only read one of Sonya Hartnett’s books previously, Shadows of the Side-Step Wolf, which is a young adult novel I read in high school. I was curious to read more and with my track record with book covers to go by there was no way I could go past this one given it's lovely illustrations.

I’m so pleased to say the book lived up to its gorgeous cover by being an eerily beautiful story. I love how Sonya Hartnett turns the Australian bush and beach into a fairytale setting - unique and strange bu
KZM books
Jan 26, 2015 KZM books rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone

“…Svet se menja kada se nešto u njemu voli. Reči postaju slabe. Boje blešte. Svaki trenutak treperi zbog mogućeg značaja. A srce koje voli pita se kako je uopšte moglo da živi, a da ne voli – i kako će uopšte živeti sada, sada kada voli.”

Jednog kišnog dana, kada se gopođa Matilda vratila iz šetnje sa svojim psom, u svojoj kući je zatekla dečaka čiji joj je pogled delovao poznato. Nije ga poznavala i svakako ga nije očekivala, ali to popod
Mar 23, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
The moment they meet and find beauty in pelicans is unexpected and beautiful and not cliché.
Matilda, an old woman, enters her sitting room to find a mysterious young boy waiting there for her. His smoky colored eyes are familiar and though he has surprised her with his arrival, the two share tea and conversation for an afternoon.

Maddy's life unfolds in a lyrical recollection told to the young boy, swinging from scenes in the present in her sitting room back to the distant past when she was girl and first fell in love.

This is a gorgeous story that reads like a dreamy fairy-tale, a fev
Eva Mitnick
Mar 27, 2009 Eva Mitnick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, fantasy
Gorgeously written and managing to be at the same time both warmly human and puzzlingly mythical, this book is not easy to categorize. It will probably be of most interest to older teens and adults, as the main character is an old woman named Maddy looking back at events - and a relationship - that happened to her as a teen and young woman.

There are fairy-tale elements (Maddy's young man, whom she calls Feather, is an otherworldly sort of person) and moments when (as during the fight between the
Apr 22, 2008 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not generally a big fan of Sonya Hartnett. It's not that I don't appreciate the skill of her writing, I just never feel emotionally connected to her books. (Apart from "Forest", which was about cats, not people. I think I have a problem with her oft-times misanthropic take on humanity.)

Anyway, I didn't expect to care for "The Ghost's Child" any better than I had (most of) her other novels, and it's true that when I started the book, I felt quite disconnected, as much as I—yes—admired the wr
Jun 25, 2008 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What does it mean to love someone very deeply, and then lose that love? And what does it mean to love someone deeply, but still yearn for something more? Once again, Harnett illuminates the hidden places of the human heart with truth and beauty.
Dec 02, 2015 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this book a couple of times, though not for a few years now. When I first read it, as a 14/15 year old I was absolutely blown away by Hartnett's incredible writing. I hadn't before come across a book that was written so well. I was captivated. These days I hardly remember the details of the story (perhaps I should re-read it shortly...), but it will forever stand out in my memory as one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, for it showed me what a book can be.
Maybe it won't c
Alekz Hannah
May 11, 2015 Alekz Hannah rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Ashley B for

Matilda comes home one day to find a young boy sitting on her sofa. They have tea, and she tells him about her past. At that time, she went by Maddy, and she longed for a fairy tale life.

When Maddy finished school, she came home to her family's house by the sea. Her father asked her what she thought the most beautiful thing in the world was. She answered, "sea eagles." Her father decided that the two of them together would travel the world in search of t
Oct 10, 2008 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hartnett, Sonya. 2008. The Ghost's Child. Releases October 14, 2008.

"An exquisite fable about love and loss by the author of the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Surrender."

It's important for readers to realize they're holding a fable in their hands. It will help explain some of the strangeness for one thing. If they're not trying to make it fit reality. Not that the book is unrealistic--it has its moments of course--but it's a blended reality meets fantasy. It has its own set of rules.

So fable abou
The Ghost's Child: A poorly-written review with digressions!

Matilda is already an old woman when she comes home to find a young boy relaxing on her couch, clearly waiting for her. Over the course of the afternoon, she tells him the story of how she came to be who she is--her way of refuting the boy’s disappointed accusation that she has gotten old. How she arrived at this place in her life--elderly, serene, at peace--was a long process of travel and adventure, of falling in love and learning to
Alexi Salter
Oct 04, 2012 Alexi Salter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was genuinely captivating, it kept on urging me to pick it up and see what happens. The descriptions were so incredible, I think Sonya may now be one of the best authors in all of mankind!

I do have one complaint though, it's that the character Feather was just stupid! I know that's a very rude thing to say, but he was! If you haven't read the book, don't worry, I won't give too much away. He was okay at the beginning, but in the middle he just turned horribly, horribly wrong...Whatever
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2014 Annette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by my teen-aged daughter. Ahhh! A very good recommendation. She owns this book & has read it like a half dozen times. Now I see why!
This is a 'short' book compared to the ones I usually read. But once I started it, I literally could not put it down. It was just so beautiful! I finished it the same day I started it.
The beauty of the way the author tells this story is really what 'got' me, what 'roped me in', what had me mesmerized & needing to read on. I ju
Christina Diaz
Oct 08, 2014 Christina Diaz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Ghost's Child" reads in a very ethereal, beautiful manner. The way the story is told and the content and the characters are very dreamy and almost in a different reality. I really love the language of the whole book, it carries this gentle and light and it simply is beautiful.

The story Matilda tells of herself, Maddy is so bittersweet. I especially found Maddy's relationship with her father sad and how he just transforms into a different man after his and her trip across the world. It was
Jan 03, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this, but I have a feeling that it's not going to sell well with my students. The read is much like that of Lark Rise to Candleford, Flora Thompson's fictionalized account of growing up in turn of the century England: slow, lots of description, not so much with the action. Haruf's Plainsong is another in this vein.

That's not to say that students won't like it, but I think it's a niche read rather than a widespread seller.
Jul 30, 2008 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Another deep one from Harntnett. It was a very quick read and I always wanted to pick it up and see what was going to happen next. I don't see too many teens enjoying it for plot or characterization. But I do think the writing is exquisite and teens can definitely enjoy that!

Review soon? Maybe?
Nov 11, 2014 Jules rated it it was amazing
I'd describe this as a fable. It is magical, surreal & philosophical. It is both beautiful & heartbreaking at the same time. An unusual & wonderful read that will probably stay with me for many years.
Jan 16, 2008 tee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Very pretty writing, very out-of-the-ordinary and a really beautiful tale.
Feb 03, 2016 Louisa rated it really liked it
I like Sonya Hartnett's style a lot. She always writes gentle, poetic prose and this is no exception. When an old lady is visted unexpectedly by a young boy she has never met she asks him in for tea. At first gruff and awkward, the boy is in no hurry to leave and settles in to ask the old lady about her past. The heart of the narrative is her retelling of a fascinating and unconventional life. When attention swings back to the boy and the old lady at the end, it becomes clear who he is and why h ...more
Feb 19, 2011 marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Sonya Hartnett,

I love your books and can't wait to read more.

Maddie Lee
Mar 22, 2015 Maddie Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Matilda Adelaide Victoria, or “Maddy”, is an old woman living alone, when she is one day greeted by the sight of a little boy waiting on her front porch when she gets home. He proceeds to be nosy and impatient as all little boys are, and asks her about her life, and why she lives alone surrounded by foreign objects. Thus, Maddy begins her tale, starting from when she was a little girl.
With a nearly always absent father and a mother who wanted a doll for a daughter, Maddy spends her childhood in
Lauren Schultz
I discovered Sonya Hartnett on a list of Printz Award-winning authors, and when I figured out that she was from Australia, I decided to try reading a couple of her novels. Of the three that I bought, this one sounded like the most unusual; reviews tout this novel as a combination of fantasy, fable and myth. As a former literature professor who has taught a course specifically on myths, fables, folktales and fairytales, this description intrigued me. I hadn’t intended on reading it, though, until ...more
Mar 08, 2013 Megan rated it did not like it
To sum up this book:
The cute, the dark and the weird- the really WEIRD.

There was a lot of philosophical elements to this; the search for the one most beautiful thing for example, and of course Feather and Mandy's relationship of heartache. This book relied on plenty- I can only assume- aboriginal mythology throughout its plot. There was hardly any dialog, anything anyone did say was extremely profound and quote worthy. My one problem with that is, it wasn't realistic and it seemed terribly forc
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Sonya Hartnett (also works under the pseudonym Cameron S. Redfern) is, or was, something of an Australian child prodigy author. She wrote her first novel at the age of thirteen, and had it published at fifteen. Her books have also been published in Europe and North America. Her novels have been published traditionally as young adult fiction, but her writing often crosses the divide and is also enj ...more
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“Love is like moonlight or thunder, or rain on a tin roof in the middle of the night; it is one of those things in life that is truly worth knowing.” 60 likes
“I want my life to be mystifying," she declared, although she didn't know what she meant.” 32 likes
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