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When twelve-year-old Florence boards the horse-drawn coach in London, she looks forward to a new life at Crutchfield Hall, her great-uncle’s manor house in the English countryside. Anything will be better, Florence thinks, than the grim London orphanage she has just left. Florence doesn’t reckon with the eerie presence that haunts the cavernous rooms and dimly lit hallways of Crutchfield. It’s the ghost of her cousin Sophia, who died the year before. Sophia’s ghost seeks to recreate the scene of her death and cause someone else to die in her place so that she will be restored to life. And she intends to force her newly arrived cousin to help her. Blending elements from classic ghost stories of the past, Mary Downing Hahn pays homage to such renowned writers as Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens while creating a bone-chilling new story of her own.
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Mary Downing Hahn, a former children’s librarian, is the award-winning author of many popular ghost stories, including Deep and Dark and Dangerous. An avid reader, traveler, and all-around arts lover, Ms. Hahn lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her two cats, Oscar and Rufus.From School Library Journal:
Gr 4-6–Hahn hearkens back to the Gothic horror novels of the 19th century with her latest ghost story. Crutchfield Hall is a gloomy old place, but after spending seven years in Miss Medleycoate's dour orphanage, 12-year-old Florence can only assume her new life there will be an improvement. In addition to her genial great-uncle, the manor's residents consist of Florence's severe great-aunt, Eugenie; her invalid cousin, James; and a few servants. The accidental death of James's older sister, Sophia, is believed to have triggered his current indisposition. Sophia's ghost continues to haunt Crutchfield Hall both figuratively and, as Florence soon discovers, literally. Far from the angelic creature idolized by Eugenie, Sophia proves to be spiteful, manipulative, and determined to avenge her death. While Hahn's literary references (including Dickens and the Brönte sisters) will likely go over the heads of the target age group, most kids will be too absorbed in the chilling atmosphere of the tale and Sophia's terrifying influence on the living world to care. A deliciously spine-tingling tale that even the most reluctant readers will enjoy.Christi Esterle, Parker Library, CO
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