Monday, April 4, 2016

REVIEW: The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall
Author: Mary Downing Hahn

12-year old Florence has lived 7 long years at Miss Medleycoate's Home for Orphan Girls, following the accidental death of her parents. When her great uncle contacts the orphanage saying he wants Florence to come live with him at Crutchfield Hall, she is excited to be starting a new life. She even has a cousin James that she longs to meet. When she arrives at Crutchfield Hall, she learns that her Aunt doesn't want her there, James is ill and never leaves his room, and the Hall is haunted by a vengeful ghost.

For me, this book was very reminiscent of The Secret Garden (or even Jane Eyre to an extent). Poor girl is whisked away to live in a large, gloomy house. She is forbidden to see her invalid relative, but does so anyway. Spooky plot line with a ghost or other secret that she and the invalid relative solve together.  I did enjoy this book....but the plot seemed very cliche. However, the book was written for middle grade children. The plot might not be so cliche for a young reader.

I found the Aunt character to be a bit too much of a stereotype. The melodramatic, harsh cruelty she showed the little girl was a bit over the top. Sort of like an evil stepmother sort of character. Very one dimensional. Although in such a short book, I wasn't really expecting much in the way of detailed character development. But a little more dimension in the characterizations would have made the story seem a bit more fleshed out.

Just as the story got to the exciting part, it ended. No fanfare or just was done. There was never a climactic moment when the aunt was confronted with her inappropriate behavior. In the end she just sort of went away out of annoyance. The mystery plot line came to a lackluster end as well. Just when you thought there might be a last battle between good and evil, it pretty much fizzled and just ended.

This one was just ok for me. The idea wasn't original, and the presentation was a bit lacking.

My rating: 6/10
Spooky situations, but age appropriate for middle grade children.
Ages 10+

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