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The House Of Dies Drear
Virginia Hamilton
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The House Of Dies Drear (Dies Drear Chronicles #1)

3.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,203 Ratings  ·  294 Reviews
A huge, old house with secret tunnels, a cantankerous caretaker, and buried treasure is a dream-come-true for 13-year-old Thomas. The fact that it's reputedly haunted only adds to its appeal! As soon as his family moves in, Thomas senses something strange about the Civil War era house, which used to be a critical stop on the Underground Railroad. With the help of his fathe ...more
Published (first published January 1st 1968)
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Aug 13, 2007 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know this book is a classic, but it drove me nuts that the first 3/4 of the book was so creepy and atmospheric...and then it turned into Scooby Doo, complete with rubber masks and meddlin' kids. Ugh.
Well, this book made me feel old. Not because it’s below my age level (even though it is), it’s just dated. Another review said this was like a Scooby mystery and I wholeheartedly agree, but I’m not sure a Scooby mystery is something that would survive in today’s world. I mean, a bunch of hippies and their talking dog, traveling the country in their psychedelic van. That kind of crap was awesome when I was a kid, but now they’d fly. With their cell phones. Or they’d… oh god. They’d be the Winche ...more
Where to begin?

Probably with the word "said".

I read this book in the 7th grade. It was assigned reading, mandatory, and so, of course, I hated it. The sentences were choppy at best, the plot could've been written by a 3-year old with a propensity for telling idiotic ghost stories, and the characters were like an open box of Cheez-Its--stale and hard to swallow.

However, this was the younger me, the rasher me. I decided, years later, to give this book a second chance (something I usually do not do
Guy Gonzalez
Mar 12, 2011 Guy Gonzalez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-ebooks
It's been a while since I've finished a book in 24 hours, but Virginia Hamilton's The House of Dies Drear moves quickly, almost every chapter ending with a cliffhanger of some kind that pushes forward to its satisfying conclusion. It's effectively a story about father-son relationships, smartly wrapped within a ghost story, as 13-year-old Thomas Small and his professor father learn the truth about the mysterious old Civil War era house the Small family moves into, outside Columbus, OH, and its c ...more
Jun 09, 2009 Robbie rated it really liked it
Shelves: advisory
The House of Dies Drear
by Virginia Hamilton
279 pages

Thomas and his family just moved into this new house. Thomas' first impression of the house was what he expected. He knew something was up with the house. The only problem was he had to find out the hard way. Dies Drear and 2 other slaves had been murdered there, and there ghosts were said to have haunted the house. Thomas then had done some snooping around, to find out the secrets of the house.

I like this book a lot. It
Feb 26, 2013 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book wins some kind of prize for creepiest title. I love saying it, though it sticks on my tongue.

Winner of the coveted Edgar Award, this book is a juvenile historical that is structured like a mystery.

"Thomas Small, a 13-year-old African American boy, moves with his family into a house that was once part of the Underground Railroad that is in Ohio. His father, Mr. Small, tells Thomas that the caretaker of the house is Mr. Pluto. People think he is the devil because Mr. Pluto rides an old b
Feb 14, 2008 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I expected more from this book than I got. I think that I had vaguely heard a lot about it, and thus expected it to be some sort of amazingly-written work of art. Instead I just found dull, overly-descriptive, under-developed and predictable literature. The plot is interesting in that it combines history with a mystery, so perhaps that is the source of its acclaim. I, though, was not drawn in enough by it to enjoy nor to recommend The House of Dies Drear.
When I added The House of Dies Drear to my to-read shelf I didn't realize this was a young adult book. I didn't realize this until I had to go into the juvenile section at the library in order to find it.

As young adult books go, I liked this one. The story was intriguing, and it was a moderately sinister/suspenseful tale. I would have liked that aspect to have gone a bit further, to have been a little more "full on" (which I suspect it would have done if this book had been written today), but t
This gothic mystery uses true-to-life details about the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement to give depth to an already creepy, fascinating story. 13-year-old Thomas Small is thrilled when his family moves into the historical Drear House, even if it means leaving Virginia and moving to Ohio. What kid wouldn't love a potentially haunted house that's full of secret passages? It doesn't take him long to become embroiled in the mystery. Who is Mr. Pluto, the caretaker, really? Does he ...more
Mr. Kovach
A creepy and mysterious book about an old house, which was formerly a hiding place and transfer station on the underground railroad, the family that moves into it, and the old man who for many decades has been the steward of the secrets it holds. Interesting and historical fiction-ey, though the writing is a bit uneven. Powerful in that the old man is not just the steward of the physical secrets of the house but of the experiences of the runaway slaves who are an unseen but integral part of the ...more
Lord Beardsley
I grew up with this classic book as part of my childhood. I first learned of it from the ABC Weekend Specials show that was on Saturday mornings in the 80s. A TV adaptation was made of it, which I watched as a little kid, then read later when I was a bit older.

It was probably my first introduction to the topic of slavery in American history as well as the Underground Railroad, and it's presented in a great, engaging way. It's a great book for kids, and has some wonderful things to say about why
Feb 08, 2013 Karen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because my 6th grader is currently reading it in school. It was interesting, the imagery was fabulous. Overall, however, I found it to be hard to follow and a bit unbelievable. The language used in conversations was stilted and forced, and often very difficult to follow. Many times characters would say something, and I had no idea what it meant or why they said it. The main character in the book, an adolescnent boy, seemed mature way beyond his years. That being said, I am fairl ...more
Jan 06, 2012 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deliciously chilling, with a healthy dose of history fascinating in its own right. I spent lots of time as a kid picturing the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad underground. But even after I learned better, I didn't appreciate what it truly was. I think I learned more about the Underground Railroad in this book than I did in primary and secondary school combined.

"I'll take freedom any day over all the romantic nonsense about slavery," said Mayhew.
"I mean not to glorify it," said Mr. Sma
Jun 08, 2015 Ashantiw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book,The House Of Dies Drear keeps you hooked and wanting
to read more.The main details that make the story is the history behind the property of the house.The details that describe the owner of the property,and The design of the house.The history behind the property goes back a hundred years were Dies Drear was hiding two slaves in his house.I think just by some background of the property knowing that the house was an underground railroad makes it interesting.The owner of the property is M
Jan 27, 2015 J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
BEWARE of spoilers. One man's bookflap summary is another man's spoiler.

I'm a native Ohioan, so a story involving Ohio and the historical Underground Railroad was right up my alley. Dies Drear is the name of a white abolitionist.

Interesting to read a story structured from the viewpoint of a 20th-century black family.

Loved the mystery involving the abolition-era house occupied by the protagonists, namely the family (including children) of a black scholar, Mr. Small, who's taken a faculty position
Mar 01, 2016 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mommy-s-shelf
I picked this book up solely because A needed a passage from it for homework, and we were at the I said let's see if it's here...and it was! Should be interesting!

Well, it wasn't just a passage she needed, it turns out A is reading the whole book in class. So what did I think of it? Well it's pretty weird overall. I spent a lot of the book kind of confused about what was happening.... I also ended up feeling like the book was a prolonged Scooby-Doo episode. The writing was ok, but
Dec 04, 2013 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas and his family just moved into this new house. Thomas first Thought of the house was what he expected. He knew something was up with the house. The only problem was he had to find out the hard way. Dies Drear and 2 other slaves had been murdered there, and there ghosts were said to have haunted the house. Thomas then had done some looking around, to find out the mystery of the house. I liked this book because I am into the ghost and mystery scene
argh, so disappointed in this book! i picked it up because I came across it as I was shelving books at the new library and the description made it sound awesome - kind of like Candleshoe, which is one of my fave movies. the description made it sound like it was packed with wall-to-wall action: ghosts, murder, buried treasure, secret Underground Railroad passageways...but in reality, the story was subdued and dated. Even the high-action scenes seemed to drag along at a sluggish pace. And I swear ...more
Jul 04, 2016 Nathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It might be wise for me to try and reread this one, as it was originally for my 8th grade reading class. However, I really just didn't like this book at all. I felt that at the beginning the plot was somewhat solid, and I was excited to be reading what seemed to be a ghost story in a class. After what I felt like was a fairly strong and exciting buildup, the ending felt very disappointing and lackluster. I won't use spoilers, but I will definitely say that the ending left a lot to be desired. I ...more
Susan Dove Lempke
I love Virginia Hamilton's writing but had never gotten around to reading this, her most well-known book. It's the story of a family moving from the south to Ohio to live in a house that was part of the Underground Railroad, and the mysterious caretaker, Mr. Pluto. It had some very fine moments and an intriguing mystery, but overall it seemed surprisingly dated. With its slow, careful pacing, it was hard to imagine kids today being willing to read it, particularly as much of the focus is not on ...more
Penny Johnson
Thomas has an interesting sense of the world around him. "Thomas knew where to follow. Moving blindly, he would suddenly have the sensation that his father had left behind part of his spirit like a handprint in the air. Thomas would stumble upon this unsettled space and would know his father had passed there."

While I don't feel the book was "a spellbinding mystery with edge-of-the-seat suspense" as stated in the New York Times Book Review, I felt this book had an unsettling effect, with its desc
Piper Resch
Honestly I do not think this book is in the Horror genre, I was expecting more scary scenes and less talking. This book is good if you like a book with a lot of talking among the characters, if you are looking for a horror book keep in mind this book is mild in the horror genre.

Summary: Thomas Small and his family have moved from their old house to a new one in the middle of Ohio, Thomas's dad tells them the new house was part of the Under ground Rail Road. As Tomas starts to learn more and more
Dec 28, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've recommended this book to many of my students, after all, what's not to like: a haunted house, creepy caretaker, Underground Railroad... and more! But it's been impossible to get the kids to check the book out, perhaps because of the cover (I am now trying to do the recommendation while hiding the cover) or that it has too much history (the least read genre among my adolescent clientele is one of my favorites, historical fiction). This book is a gem. It's an easy read, the main character is ...more
Sep 26, 2014 Jenn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I got this one for my Little a while ago from a list of recommended reading for the elementary set. She placed out of the reading level before she got to read it and decided she didn't want to read it. It sounded interesting, so I put it aside to try.

It was okay. I never got a good read on Thomas. He thought and acted like a boy of 8 or so, but I got the impression that he'd be going to the junior high, at least, when they drove by it. So he'd have to be at least 12, right? The story just seeme
Marie Dorry
Jun 14, 2013 Marie Dorry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great to help teach about the Underground Railroad to 5th grade. There is also a movie that can be used after the class finishes reading the book.
Apr 14, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remembered reading this book in middle school years ago. I found it again through an online search and found a copy in a local used book store, the spine still unbroken.

I remembered it as a magical tale that seemed a bit other worldly without remembering just exactly why. It's mellowed in the intervening nearly 30 years but still a great read.

I don't know if kids still read or have written for them books like this, but this speaks of a gentler time while still dealing with pretty powerful is
Polly Brown

Although I liked the sequel better, this first book in a short series of two worked for me. Reading other people's comments I'm a little perplexed. Thomas is believable to me, and Pluto is, too. Thomas's feelings on moving north, his mixed feelings about going to an entirely black church, his concerns about the odd house they've moved into, and the way he's beginning to have reactions really distinct from his father's---all that feels true, although it's all within a context that is largely unfa
Caleb Rowden
The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton was an interesting book to say the least. It was the experience. The main character is Thomas small with the setting never being hugely focused on. I think it takes place in Ohio because Thomas brought it up. Thomas starts off the story in a dream and goes through many things like a trail he traveled before to seeing and cutting down evergreen trees. After waking from his dream he is in his house, yet doesn't know. He is struck by amnesia. He goes see ...more
Karissa Farina
Jul 08, 2014 Karissa Farina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book in about the 6th grade and then again in the eighth grade. Then I read it again as an adult. Each time I've read it I've gained more appreciation and understanding for it.

It's the simple story of a boy and his family who move into a historic Underground Railroad home. Not long after strange things begin to happen to him and his family. And it teaches him about loyalty, trust, friendship, and that sometimes things aren't always what they appear to be (not black or white).
Amir Lewis English: C block

I read “The House of Dies Drear” by Virginia Hamilton. I actually enjoyed some of the book and most of it I didn’t seem too interested in it. The parts I did like is how adventurous “Thomas” the main character is. Do to his love of adventuring, he is the reason why most the events in the story happened. Thomas suspected that the house he was moving into was haunted, so as soon as he got there, he started exploring and finding different things. The things I didn’t like
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Other Books in the Series

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