This was a cute little deviation from other books. It didn't take very long to read. I think a ten year old would really enjoy it. I appreciated the f...moreThis was a cute little deviation from other books. It didn't take very long to read. I think a ten year old would really enjoy it. I appreciated the fact that the story didn't end when Felicity and co. found out who the culprit was, and that more things had to be done besides just solving the riddle. As always, enjoyed the "looking back" section as well! (less)
This was really relatable and well written. I'm way out of the target age range for this but I found myself pretty invested in the story and I got tea...moreThis was really relatable and well written. I'm way out of the target age range for this but I found myself pretty invested in the story and I got teary a few times reading it. (less)
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...moreWell, 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 Winchesters.
Anyway, so if I were ten or so and not a horror fanatic, this book might scare me, but I doubt it. In it, a boy and his family (dad, mom, younger twin brothers) move from North Carolina to Ohio, to a house once owned by a famous abolitionist. One of the twins was named either Butch, Boomer, or Buster, which was honestly the most unfortunate part for me. There are some “ghostly happenings,” which I’m not sure would fool even a ten year old, and then (view spoiler)[an actor helps them dress as ghosts to scare the people who are scaring them, and the book ends. (hide spoiler)]
The ghostly happenings are kind of flat. Really, it’s more that the father, a historian, enjoys being a troll than anything scary actually happening. The dad leaves a report suggesting the house is haunted out, and the boy reads it, and the dad gets mad at him for reading it and demands he never speak of it, ever. The boy goes exploring, falls in a tunnel he didn’t know was there, and follows it back to the kitchen wall, where his father proceeds to tell him he thought it’d be fun if the boy discovered the tunnels for himself. (Kid could have gotten hurt, seriously.) This actually happens twice. The caretaker of the property goes by Mr. Pluto, so the dad says Pluto is another name for Hades, and lets the boy go on believing this guy is really the devil. The ghostly happenings that weren’t caused by trolldad were the result of someone actually breaking into their house, which is horrifyingly not addressed.
As an aside, I’ve read a few “classic” children’s ghost stories lately and while believe me, I am in no way saying that kids around my age were neglected or abused (I know, I get it, different time, etc. etc.), parental negligence seems to be a BIG part of the ghost stories. Not “oh, I’m just going to let my kid go exploring” kind of negligence… that’s fine (or at least, it was in times past). That’s totally okay, assuming they’re not talking to the clown that lives in the storm drain. I’m talking about “I’m going to let my kid fall into a tunnel and potentially break his leg because it might be fun for him to discover on his own” like we see here or “I’m going to actively destroy every friendship my ward ever fosters, after I move him across the country without telling anyone” like we see in Blackbriar. I used to love Mary Downing Hahn as a kid, and this has me wondering if there are any hidden undertones that went right over my head. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I had a teacher that read this book to us in school and I LOVED it then. Not the writing so much, but the story was just great. Rating for nostalgia,...moreI had a teacher that read this book to us in school and I LOVED it then. Not the writing so much, but the story was just great. Rating for nostalgia, more or less! (less)
Blackbriar is the classic (children's) horror story about a young orphan who moves into a haunted house.
I'm sure if I had read this when I was the ap...moreBlackbriar is the classic (children's) horror story about a young orphan who moves into a haunted house.
I'm sure if I had read this when I was the appropriate age to enjoy it, my rating would be a little different, but as it is I'm having a really hard time with it. It's also possible that it's just a bit too outdated, for lack of a better term. Things change, and it might have been scary when it was published, but now it's just… campy.
Danny lives with one of the employees of the school he attends, but she isn't his guardian. She convinces him to move out of London and into a country house several hours away. She seems way too flighty to even be allowed around children, even in that time period—she takes this kid out of London and into the country without informing his legal guardian or the school he attends… or anyone else, come to think of it… and when he suggests to her that this might be a bad idea she kind of shrugs it off and says "by the time anyone figures it out, we will be long gone!"
Anyway, the biggest disappointment for me in this whole novel was that it's supposed to be a ghost story. Throughout the whole book it was obvious that no ghosts were appearing, nor were they going to appear. The so called "paranormal" happenings in the book were obviously not paranormal at all and that really disappointed me. There were a few "witches," which weren't witches at all but just a bunch of adults playing pretend, and even that didn't show up until the very end of the book.
Now that I think about it… this might have scared me a little when I was five.
I'm not sure that I liked any of the characters, except maybe Lark. Philippa (the secretary) came off as extremely creepy, first by basically kidnapping this kid and then by running all of his friends off, so that she was literally the only person in his life. Danny was just a crabby, lazy boy.
The ending of the book made very little sense to me, too. There was resolution, but it was crammed into the last few sentences and the last page covered a long span of time. I HATE it when books do that. Include an epilogue if you must, but don't cram years of adjustment into three sentences and tie everything up into a neat little bow, please. It just looks like you got tired of writing the book and wanted to move on. (less)