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Sweet Miss Honeywell's Revenge: A Ghost Story

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Zibby Thorne doesn't know what possessed her to buy an antique dollhouse--she doesn't even like dolls. But when her friends and family start having bizarre accidents clearly connected to the dollhouse, she can't ignore the menacing structure any longer.

Zibby is sure that one particularly creepy doll in a gray dress is somehow responsible for the trouble. She discovers the doll is controlled by the spirit of "sweet" Miss Honeywell, a vengeful governess who seeks to control Zibby and her friends from beyond the grave. They must find a way to stop Miss Honeywell before her wrath becomes deadly.

444 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2004

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About the author

Kathryn Reiss

26 books164 followers
Kathryn Reiss was born in Massachusetts, grew up in Ohio, and received B.A. degrees in English and German from Duke University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. After college, she lived in Bonn, Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, and during this time wrote the first draft of her first novel, Time Windows.

Ms. Reiss is an award -winning author of 20 novels for kids and teens. She has been a Writer in Residence for the Princeton Arts Council, a recipient of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Grant for Writers, and has been a featured speaker with (among others) Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, The Northern California Library Association, The International Reading Association, Fresno County Office of Education, California Reading Association, The American Library Association, and the National Council of Teachers of English. She lives in Northern California with her husband and the last of her seven children still in the nest. She is a Full Professor of English at Mills College at Northeastern University, and also teaches in the low -residency MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the University of Nevada, Reno.

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5 stars
438 (47%)
4 stars
282 (30%)
3 stars
155 (16%)
2 stars
36 (3%)
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15 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 104 reviews
Profile Image for Camila.
6 reviews7 followers
November 25, 2008
I'm convinced my library's copy of the book is cursed or something. REALLY! This book freaked me out so much ((not what happened in the book, but what happened TO the book and me))

---3 years ago: The book had been lost for longer than a week, and I had no idea where it was. My teacher kept calling out my name for over due books. It was embarrassing. Then one evening, my mom was walking my sister and I to the bakery. We had our food and everything picked out at the cash register when she realized she hadn't brought her purse. I told her to check for spare change. We had EXACTLY THE RIGHT AMOUNT. (just like in the book!) I was a little freaked but it was in a good way because I was glad we had enough money to pay for our food. On our walk home in the dark (it had just finished raining), a car drove past and shone its headlights on something in the road. The thing was in rain gutter so I reached to pick it up what looked to be a very beat up book. (It was facing down). When I flipped up the very battered book, I stifled a scream because it was mine (well, the library's!). The protective plastic wrapping is now completely torn up and the back cover has holes in it. The book reminded me of the dollhouse- IT CAME BACK, even though I may not have wanted it to. ---

The school librarian was okay with the whole book being partially destroyed but still legible. She said it was a wonderful story and made the book even spookier. :) My sister brought it home today for a book report and I almost screamed. (It was the exact same copy, all torn up and everything)

This is a wonderful book-- it's very scary, and even though I knew it would freak me out beyond reason I could not put it down at bedtime in the dark.
Profile Image for Libby.
6 reviews9 followers
April 10, 2015
I remember reading this book back in elementary school, and for some reason, I got really into it. I never was (and still am) a huge fan of ghost stories or the horror/thriller genre in general. As an 8,9, and 10 year old, this book was more of the scary type and was not something I ever thought I would pick up. However, there was something about it that made me want to keep reading. I was hooked on the suspense and just needed to finish it. Every time I got bored with life, I would always go back to this book to add a little bit of fun and thrill to life.
Profile Image for Brandi.
153 reviews44 followers
December 4, 2020
Sweet Miss Honeywell's Revenge is a solid book. It's 4 stars on a bad day, and 5 stars every other day.

It has all the right elements of a good ghost story - a particularly creepy doll, a handful of families involved with this angry poltergeist, and an element of mystery - presented in a well-written way.

The pacing never felt slow or hurried. Even if you could predict some of the plot twists, the reveal wasn't just a confirmation of what you had already guessed; there was more to the surprise that still made the surprise surprising and kept the plot moving forward. It wasn't just a "tada" or "gotcha" moment. And the characters acted believably for their respective ages.

The only criticism that I really have is a writing-related question that I would pose to the author, and that is why does Zibby refer to her dad as 'her dad' and her mom as 'Nell' for most of the book? That just strikes me as odd.

Also, now I can see why some people think dolls are creepy.
Profile Image for v..
61 reviews78 followers
November 10, 2019
I first read this about ten years ago and it scared me so much as a little middle schooler. Rereading it now as an adult and after so many years, it definitely wasn’t as scary as I remember but it was still lots of fun. A perfectly creepy October read to get me in the mood for Halloween.
46 reviews1 follower
September 15, 2019
Zibby Thorne had an absolutely normal life, other than the painful facts that her best friend had moved far away and that her dad fell in love on his trip to Italy and now lives there. On her birthday, Zibby is dragged to a miniatures convention by her mother- when she sees the perfect dollhouse, with a price Zibby could afford down to the last penny. There’s only one thing to be concerned about:
The dollhouse is haunted.
This exciting book tells a wonderful story of friendship, ghosts and mystery mixed all in one as Zibby and her friends try to solve the mystery of “Sweet” Miss Honeywell. Can they stop her before she gains too much power? With glimpses into the past of Primrose Parson, a child in the early 1900s, we see the ghosts when they were alive… and why Sweet Miss Honeywell is so desperate for revenge.
40 reviews
June 11, 2009
Zibby Thorne knows there's something wrong with the shabby dollhouse she bought for her twelfth birthday. She hears strange rustling and ringing noises when there's no one else in the room, and one of the dolls never seems to be in the same place she left it. Most frightening of all, whatever make-believe Zibby plays with the dolls comes true--but in a warped, twisted kind of way.

So when her family and friends start having bizarre accidents, Zibby is certain the dollhouse is somehow responsible. Terrified, she tracks down the original owner, and she learns something even more shocking: The dollhouse is haunted--and one of the ghosts who lives in it is a cruel former governess named Miss Honeywell who died eighty years ago.

Profile Image for Joanna.
33 reviews
January 3, 2008
OMG, this is one of the best books I've ever read, I'm not even kidding! I can't really remember much of it though since I read it like, two years ago. But I DO remember that it was amazing! Now I gotta go read it again! ;D
Profile Image for Leeann Howard.
21 reviews46 followers
July 7, 2010
I miss this book! I don't own it, I wish I did!! This story involves a doll house withe the "ghost" of a girl's "nanny" trapped inside a doll.
Profile Image for Aime Tercero.
267 reviews24 followers
December 7, 2020
3 Stars

Sooo, I did not read this one this year, I actually read like a couple years ago, in ninth grade to be a bit exact... I was just wandering of some lists here on Goodreads and read the description of this one and it rang a bell. Mind you, I did not have a Goodreads account when I was in Ninth grade so I forgot about this book until recently. I remember grabbing it from my school library and the cover grabbed me and decided to check it out and read it by Christmas Break. Reading sppoky books during Christmas? Yeah, I'm such a rebel.

Onto the story, it started out great and it gave you the spooky vibes but in the middle it kind of dragged a bit so it ended being a 3 stars for me, even at that time. Loved the concept and the writing was good but I wanted more, I guess?

I suck at reviews, man. But I try my best lol
Profile Image for Amanda Kitchens.
21 reviews5 followers
April 14, 2019
Rarely do I ever have trouble finishing a book, but this one was awful and I’m confused on why it’s so highly rated. I found it at my library for free and it had a 4 star rating so I thought “Why not?” The storyline is so slow and predictable, its painful. I might recommend this book to men on death row to kill them of boredom!
Profile Image for Devon.
935 reviews1 follower
November 12, 2018
This one was way too long for a haunted dollhouse book and got a little hokey at the end, but I loved the way the characters formed a group of friends and worked through the haunting together. This one has a lot of potential to be creepy but doesn't quite live up to.
Profile Image for Ashley.
61 reviews
July 15, 2021
I breezed through this book and there were part that actually hooked me but overall its definitely a book for kids and teens. The writing is basic and repetitive and there are too many characters to keep track of.
Profile Image for Shanu.
99 reviews2 followers
November 4, 2018
An awesome read for the young adults. Good ghost story well worth reading once.
6 reviews
July 18, 2020
*4.5, I read this book a while ago but i remember it was such a great, creepy book.
Profile Image for D. Wickles.
Author 1 book49 followers
December 26, 2021
I picked up this book because it had ghosts, a mystery and a haunted dollhouse. All things I enjoy reading about in stories. It is a young adult book but I enjoy many young adult books.
Profile Image for Katherine.
25 reviews
September 8, 2017
This book legitimately gave me the creeps so often I would have to put it down. I adore Kathryn Reiss she is seriously underrated.
Profile Image for Jianne.
292 reviews
November 6, 2011
Sweet Miss Honeywell's Revenge: A Ghost Story is an unexpected read, I mean I didn't literally thought I'd read it. But because of the book promotion (Hi, Prechana!) I might as well give it a try. And how long has it been since I've last read a horror book? And as far as my memories remind me, the only horror books that I really love were Darren Shan's books, so The Saga of Darren Shan and The Demonata and boy it seemed long ago since I've finish those series.

Sweet Miss Honeywell's Revenge: A Ghost Story is about 12-year-old Zibby who bought an old antique dollhouse. Since then, strange things have been happening in her life and people started getting hurt. Zibby tried to get rid of the dollhouse by burning and destroying it, however no matter what method she uses, the dollhouse goes back to her. Later on, she found out the one of the dolls, the one in a gray dress and mean face is actually Miss Honeywell's ghost who wants to seek revenge. To who and why? You'll be find as you read along.

Well, my final say is that it's not THAT bad. It certainly an interesting and intriguing read. It also gave me the creeps by the way, at least it has that "scary" factor in it. I was actually surprised that I turned out liking it, I mean I've never thought of reading horror after Darren Shan's books because I thought I won't like them because they don't scare me. But right now, I know that the purpose of horror is to scare the reader, this book is successful in that so I was happy. The plot is also good, I mean it made me miss my childhood and it certainty something that I haven't read before. The concept is good especially to teach young girls out there not to be spoiled and obedient.

However, it has come to me that the target audience for this book is not my age. Since the twists and revelations or plot holes so to say are much easier to identify or guess because it's more for younger readers. For a an avid reader like me, I need a much more complex and even complicated twits so to say. I also just wanted the twists to be revealed more, I just thought that it is more relevant to reveal them earlier because it is fairly obvious already. There are also some events that seem relevant, I mean the book is quite long (despite the fact that I read it in three days) so some of isn't really needed anymore.

And a much more better character development please. I am glad with Laura-Jane's character development but not on Zibby, I still find her character quite childish, though it is good that she's not too girly like her cousin. And please, this is horror. So more gore? And violence? Yes, I am a violent girl. But then like I said, the target audience is younger readers so I guess I'll let it go, though there's still some "childish" element in it.

So yes, quite predictable though very nice plot, I like the non-linear storytelling. More character development, scary factor is present and just omit the unneeded events and it'll get its five star already. Nevertheless, I recommend Sweet Miss Honeywell's Revenge: A Ghost Story to horror and younger readers out there.
August 12, 2022
I had so much fun reading Sweet Miss Honeywell’s Revenge again!

When I was 13, I had an elective class in middle school as a Library Aid. One day, I was putting away some books for the librarian when this little gem caught my eye on the cart. I was already an avid reader, and I couldn’t resist stealing away a few minutes in the stacks to read the back and the first few pages of Reiss’s novel. I had never been the kid to read things like ghost stories or Goosebumps; I was a huge chicken and stayed far away from scary things. But this book made me curious, so instead of putting it away, I checked it out and spent the next few nights scaring myself to death reading it. It’s stuck with me all these years. (I still sometimes have nightmares involving disembodied hands. I am 27 as of writing this post in April of 2022.)

It’s unclear what year Sweet Miss Honeywell’s Revenge takes place in, but I think it’s safe to assume the early 2000s. Your main characters are four 12-year-old girls: one is spunky, one is anxious, one is daring, and the last is . . . mean? They do have some development, but each girl does have a predominant emotion that colors their actions/reactions.

Personally, I found the alternating chapters between 2000-something and 1919 to be really well done. The 1919 chapters were definitely my favorites as that’s where you get all the ghost story backstory! As a child, I didn’t question Miss Honeywell’s behavior as anything more than controlling-adult-hates-children-and-wants-them-to-suffer. As an adult myself, I think there was something much more wrong with Miss Honeywell than a basic villainous intent to further the plot. I think she was mentally ill. That doesn’t excuse her behaviors at all, but it does add some depth to the character that I appreciated.

The four girls do grow up a bit throughout the story too. There’s a bit of a “found family” story mixed in with the ghost story. The girls have to learn more about teamwork, loyalty, and how their past actions can affect the future. It’s a good way to make kids utilize their just-developing critical thinking skills.

Please keep in mind that this book was written for kids; you won’t find amazing zingers and pretty prose in these pages. It’s actually repetitive enough that I found the same adjectives used too close together a few times.

But really, if your preteen likes ghost stories, they will adore this book. And possibly be forever freaked out by porcelain dolls, if they aren’t already.

~ Anna

Read other great book reviews on my blog!
3 reviews1 follower
October 4, 2013
****SPOILER ALERT*** Have you ever been afraid of something so small its too rediculous for anybody to believe???Something small but very harmful...Sweet Miss Honeywells Revenge is a very intrigueing book.Its genre is mystery because its a fiction ghost story.When i first started reading this book i thought it was boring because no action was occurring,but as i read on suspence hit the story.especially when the dollhouse starts putting zibbys cousin in danger.
Zibby Thornes birthday had just passed and she had got some money from family and friends.She couldnt wait to go buy her rollerskates she had been dying for!But,her mother and aunt wanted to stop at the antique shop where they where having a huge bargin...but Zibby knows when her mother and her aunt got dollhouse shopping together they never want to get out the shop!So Zibbys cousin Charrlotte had to come but Charrlotte was not the nicest cousin.So Zibby decided to go look through the shop by herself as she was going around the croweded antique shop and she stopped by a very old but yet beautiful dollhouse,as she was observing the house she noticed a old woman behind the dollhouse.She told Zibby the house cost only $136.81 exactly what Zibby had been given for her birthday...STRANGE...
Zibby believed it was to beautiful to pass so she forgot about her rollerblades and bought the dollhouse.the old woman gave her a reciept that had the transaction on it BUT it said "NO RETURNS NO RETURNS NO RETURNS".After Zibby was snapped back into reality she heard her mother calling her so she turned around and said look at this dollhouse i bought and her mother and aunt where saying that must of cost a fortune but she said ope and turned around to reveal the old woman she had bought the dollhouse from but she vanished!AS the story goes on Zibby discovers that the dollhouse isnt just a dollhouse...
Strang ething start happening to Zibby and ZIbbys family.Can Zibby handle this?Or will she give in to the house and fall under someones control?
I liked the way the author made the main story and a side story because the side story gave you good look at who Sweet Miss Honeywell really is.An interesting thing i learnedd from this book is that to never buy something without another person with you.
Profile Image for skein.
496 reviews31 followers
June 21, 2009
My library puts certain stickers on the spine of books - so if you're looking for 'historical' or 'mystery', you look for the 'mystery' sticker, instead of wandering around reading dust jackets like a goon. It's very nice. (This book had a ghost on the spine.)

The author profile lists a number of previous books for Ms. Reiss, which surprised me, because this novel reads as a first attempt - or maybe Reiss is just not confident. So many things about this book seem to be not quite worked out. The language only works occasionally, the plot is uneven, the scary-ghost-problem is solved a little bit too easily (after almost 400 pages of will-nothing-work?) ... Also, the main protagonist's name is Zibby (short for Isabel), a fact that irritated me every time I read it (twenty times per page). (The second protagonist is named Primrose, but I was able to ignore that more easily.)

... My main problem is with the characters, who seem to be self-motivated, but (with the exception of Laura-Jane) have no apparent reality outside of the plot. Nell's catering business is only extant when it's necessary to have Zibby taste a cookie, or whatever; Jude's father is in Kenya so he can (spoiler alert!) fall off a cliff; et cetera. I know authors try to keep the 'noise' to a minimum, and I appreciate it, but after a while I was thinking to myself "Oh, that character is wearing chandelier earrings? How will this be useful to Zibby?"

Maybe I'm expecting too much from a juvenile book. But then I think back to what can be done (Pam Conrad, Robin McKinney, William Sleator) and I'm disappointed all over again. There isn't any reason that a children's book cannot be enjoyed by adults, & this one just needs that extra je ne sais quoi to elevate it.

This isn't a bad read, and if I were nine or ten I'd probably enjoy it. But would I read it again?
Profile Image for Camy.
9 reviews
January 17, 2014
If somebody gave you a doll house would u take it?what if its haunted...would you still take it? His book will scare you and be there when you go to sleep. The gene for this book is person vs.supernatural fighting a ghost from the past is supernatural.this book gave me the shivers when I read it.i confused me a little but I got the hold of it once it started to show some awnser on what happend during the past.

The setting of this book is in the past well....in the book 2005 but in some they have it on the 1909's to this very day.im not sure we're this is at though.zibby wanted to buy rollerskates but instead she buys a doll house and its haunted so then some weird things happen to her family and friends because of it.then it's up to zibby and his friends to find out what had happen in the past.the conflict for this story is person vs.super natural since they have to fight a ghost.

The structure of the book seems to be better than the one on good reads if I saw the cover I wouldn't read it.the point of view of the stories (who are told by primrose and zibby) is 1st person.i liked the way the author put 2 stories so then the reader could figure put what was happening at that time.the main characters problem(zibby) would scare.....like ALOT. who wouldn't be scared of living dolls.the character changed when primrose was sent to sweet miss honeywells after she was 10.

I would give this book a 9 out of 10 since The story was great but a little confusing.i would recommend this book for people who like ghost stories and big books.if a doll moves what would you do?
Profile Image for Charlyn.
610 reviews3 followers
July 25, 2009
Zibby can't figure out why she purchased a dollhouse for her birthday instead of the rollerblades she really wanted. It was almost as if she were possessed--and she is and so is the dollhouse. Actually she figures out the dollhouse has a ghost long before she realizes why she bought it.

After my cohort in the library read this book last year and suggested it to her daughter, it became a hot commodity among fifth grade girls. And it's so right for that age. Goodness, yes, the ghost story, but also four girls who bond because of the evil that each has heard within her head.

And it probably takes an older reader to deal with the two parallel story lines: Miss Honeywell of the far past who tutors Primrose and wishes to marry Mr. Pope; and Miss Honeywell, the jilted maiden, who carries her hatred for Primrose and lives in a doll in the house Zibby has purchased. And there's also the story of Zibby's feelings about her mother's upcoming marriage and her relationship with her father and her new stepsister-to-be. There's so much going on in this story and the length of the book should warn the reader to be prepared for lots of turns and characters who return from the past. And how will Miss Honeywell get her revenge? That's the scary part.

Profile Image for JMC.
56 reviews2 followers
November 3, 2014
This book became a precious book for me. I really love it and I became so sad when I finished it. I guess I will always feel like this whenever I read a book intended for young readers (those books that says 12 and up or lower than that). It’s not that scary…okay maybe it was scary but not the kind of stories that will make me paranoid so much. I admit I have some issues with dolls. When I was a child, I believed that they move during the night or whenever all of the people in the house are already asleep and I also believe that a lot of them are haunted or evil. There are dolls that looks so creepy, the ones that are strange and the ones that look so alive. They creep me out. So I salute Zibby for her bravery. I can never sleep in a room with a haunted dollhouse and a haunted doll. The heck, I can never stay in a house with a doll that seems to move everywhere. I will immediately tell someone who is an expert in paranormal things and get rid of that doll and the dollhouse. But I really enjoyed reading this book. It was wonderful and satisfying enough.

I also love the names Primrose and Calliope.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 104 reviews

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