A Candle in Her Room
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A Candle in Her Room

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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39  ·  rating details  ·  162 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Melissa was sure it was the doll, Dido, who brought evil to the family, not once, but again and again. Three generations were haunted by the strange wooden doll. Each time Dido came to light there was disaster and tragedy. What could be done to overcome the power of the doll? This is a book about many things: evil, the dimensions of reality, the flow of generations, and su...more
Paperback, 212 pages
Published December 28th 1972 by MacMillan Publishing Company (first published 1966)
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Community Reviews

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Melody
5/2011 Oh, how I love this book. It's tightly written, suspenseful without being terribly scary, haunting and utterly infused with a gentle love. It's rooted so deeply in its place that one comes away from it loving Pembrokeshire-as-was. Full of insights into obsession, forgiveness, family and above all love, this story is one of the classics. Scary haunted doll aside, there's just so much in this book that's rewarding. We learn about war, about cruelty and madness, about art and music and danci...more
Lisa Vegan
Apr 03, 2009 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ages 11 & up, especially girls and women
Recommended to Lisa by: Abigail A.
I loved the voices of the 3 girls/women over 3 generations whose voices told the story. The book is told is 4 sections, by Melissa, Dilys (Melissa’s neice), Melissa again, then Nina (Dily’s daughter and Melissa’s great neice). I was so attached to Melissa’s character that when it was Nina’s turn to tell the tale I occasionally briefly forgot it wasn’t Melissa anymore. All 3 of these characters are well drawn as are many others; I especially enjoyed Emmy’s character.

It’s an incredibly well writte...more
CLM
Perhaps Arthur's best known book and certainly the most unsettling. It begins:

"I suppose if we had not come to live in Pembrokeshire, Judith, Briony and I, this story would never have been written, for in another set of circumstances our lives might have run very differently. There would have been no Dido."

The story is about three generations of women who are haunted by an evil doll, and how it changes their lives.
Miriam
I received this by mistake amongst some other books I had ordered. I am reading it before returning it. A bit of a funny mistake, as Arthur was in fact an author I was slightly interested in obtaining, mostly to see if I had already read her as a child, but not urgently enough to have gotten around to getting her books since they weren't available from the library.

So far (I'm still in part one of what I believe is a three-generation story) I'm still uncertain as to whether I had read this or me...more
Kate
In the fifth grade, I borrowed this book from my elementary school library. I don't remember what attracted me to it - the book had no dust jacket so it can't have been the cover, it was a fairly old book by 1995, and I don't think I asked for any help selecting it - but from that day to this, the tale of Melissa Mansell and her lifelong connection to a doll named Dido has stuck with me. When the singer Dido became popular in the early 2000s, this book was my first thought; when I discovered Ama...more
Victoria Tirrel
I read this book when I was in fifth grade in 1972...I am now 51 and could walk to the shelf in my grade school library and know its exact location. I think I checked this book out 10-12 times in the two years I went to that school. I loved the way the book focused on the lives of the children...as though what the adults were doing barely mattered. My husband bought me a copy for Christmas this year, read it through in one sitting and found it as good as ever.
Claire S
Jan 11, 2009 Claire S rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like a good scare - not children without adult reading first!
Recommended to Claire by: 5th grade teacher
I won a copy of this book in 5th grade, in relation to doing some number of book review. I've been haunted by it ever since!
This is one of the spookiest, most gripping things I've read. Of course - disclaimer - blood and gore are a whole different thing, this has none of that. So if that's 'gripping' for you, what I'm writing won't apply.
But it's about a doll that has ... an effect on people. And it traces that effect across multiple generations of a family that buys the house in which it resi...more
Sally
Actually... I'm not sure I could say I LIKED this book. I read it only once, way back, and found it so creepy I never read it again. However, it has stuck with my memory, so I assume it is well-written so I can't give it a ho-hum-not-so-good two stars. (So many books SEEM good while I'm reading them, but then two days later I'm stuck for the heroine's name!) I have quite a few books by Ruth M. Arthur, but don't seem to have reread many. This one is the only major memory-sticker.
Erica
Nov 28, 2008 Erica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People that like magic without too much fantasy.
One of my favorite novels when I was 12 or 13, though I don't usually go for stories of more than one generation. Some seriously creepy sections (not for children susceptible to nightmares!) but very exciting, very satisfying. Like most of R A Arthur, just a bit of magic set in everyday Great Britain.

I love Margery Gill's illustrations! She also did some of the early Susan Cooper books.
M. Stafford
This novel had a profound affect on me as a teenager. I have tried to purchase it many times, but have been ripped off by different distributors. It is now a collector's item and out of my reach, sadly.

I love this book. Can't even reread it as it is out of print.
Stephanie
Oct 05, 2007 Stephanie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who aren't fond of sleep
Evil doll? Haunted family? Welsh backdrop? What's not to love about this book? Don't read it the night before you have something important to do, though, as this story will keep you keep you awake from sheer terror.
Jami
A creepy book that I never read after dark. Loved it. Read it many, many times.
Raven Corwin
Dec 18, 2013 Raven Corwin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: girls age 11 and up
Recommended to Raven by: found at school library
Amazing characters, intense issues, engrossing story... This is a piece of literature in the truest sense of the word.

I could not review this stunning book any better than "Melody" did in this post, so I will just re-post what she said:

"5/2011 Oh, how I love this book. It's tightly written, suspenseful without being terribly scary, haunting and utterly infused with a gentle love. It's rooted so deeply in its place that one comes away from it loving Pembrokeshire-as-was. Full of insights into obs...more
Therese
This is an extraordinary and memorable novel. We all read it, in my group of friends at school, when were about 12. It was a rather dark story for children, and has definite overtones of horror, as distinct from merely supernatural themes.

The evil doll, Dido, lives on in my recollections. I always recalled her with a shudder, although I had forgotten the other details of the story.
Bron
Dido the evil doll. I am amazed that my very straight school had this on their library shelves....supernatural, magic, old Welsh home, cliffs, and beautifully written. Still recall not being able to sleep after reading it as a 10 year old. Still love it now as an adult. My daughter also loved it.
Gina
I thought it was really well-written, and the way it covers multiple generations, and covers some darker themes while still being okay for adolescent readers, worked for me.
Katy Wood
Oh. I read this book years ago in elementary school. It creeped me out and I have been trying to find it to read it again
Salena Moffat
A book that has stayed with me my entire life. Absolutely haunting.
Tricia
Oct 26, 2013 Tricia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
2.5 stars. I learned about this book from a discussion on npr.org about classic YA books, and decided to track it down. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more, or been creeped out by it, if I'd been younger when I read it. As it was, I found it moderately paced but not very suspenseful. Only the final section (Nina's) approached creepiness for me.

Coincidentally, as I was reading this book I stumbled across the definition of dido: "n. - A shrewd trick; an antic; a caper". Makes me wonder if the dol...more
Mary Miller
This Book by Ruth M Arthur opened the doors for me at a very tender age for reading more advanced fiction. I was only 10 years old when I first read this book, and there was plenty about it, I did not understand or even cognitively acknowledge (some violence, darker themes), but this was a book that did not talk down to children as a child's book, nor did it alter the theme by having more adult ideas in this book. A classic and important to my development. Well written and well researched.
Wilma
i read this novel in elementary school, and it has stayed with me ever since. the story of three generations of girls in one family, each touched by the sorcery of a doll that gets passed down among them. lives are forever and tragically changed, because of dido, until the youngest girl is finally able to overcome the curse.
Maura
I read this book so many times as a pre-teen! It was so eerie but totally believable, and somewhat foreign as well, hence exotic. The melancholy mood over missed happiness yet with redemption in the 3rd generation made for a terrific plot. This was definitely a childhood favorite.
Sara
I read this book as a kid. I remember the title. I remember absolutely loving this book. The cover looks familiar. I can't remember the details of the plot but I have a fond feeling when I hear the name of the author and the name of the book.
Anne
As a child, I never realized that the book that so creeped me out was written by the same author as another favorite "Requiem for a Princess." I loved both these books at a time when most of my reading was almost exclusively focused on horses.
Jeanne
Dec 28, 2012 Jeanne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: kids
This was my absolute favorite book when I was a child. I checked it out of the Brown Library in Indianapolis several times a year. I found a copy online last year, very old, from the U.K., and I loved reading it again. Haunting, beautiful.
Corinne
I read this at least once in my early teens...to this day I'm not sure why our school library had this book on the shelves as it was much more supernatural than our parochial school would have allowed. Maybe the librarian never read it!
Jen
Thanks to my friend T, I've refound the book that scared the business oughta me in grade school. An evil wooden doll named Dido works her nasty mayhem on three generations of a family. I freaked out just seeing the cover again!
Jossalyn
love this author. discovered her when I had the ambition to read all the titles in the children's section of the library and started at A. love the Margery Gill illustrations about as much as the books.
Nancy
I read this when I was 10 or so and it always haunted me. I finally found a copy on ebay a few years ago and it was still pretty scary in parts!
Tara
I read this as a child and remembered being a bit freaked out by it so I sought it out as an adult to reread it. Definitely a bit spooky!
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227905
Working name of UK writer Ruth Mabel Arthur Huggins, long active as a children's author, her career beginning with Friendly Stories (collection, 1932). Most of her early work, like the Brownie sequence -- The Crooked Brownie (1936), The Crooked Brownie in Town (1942) and The Crooked Brownie at the Seaside (1942) is for younger children, but with Dragon Summer (1962) and A Candle in her Room (1966)...more
More about Ruth M. Arthur...
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