Book Title: The Ghost of Gosswater (available here)
Author: Lucy Strange
Illustrator: Helen Crawford- White
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: October 2020
Most Suitable For: Years 4-6
Reviewer: Jacqueline Harris
The year is 1899 and Agatha Asquith has just become an orphan. Prior to the death of her father she was living in Gosswater Hall as the only child of the Earl. His death destroys everything she thought to be true about her life. Her ghastly cousin Clarence is the heir and he throws her out and leaves her with nothing but a mystery about who she really is. Can she solve the mystery and at the same time get some sort of justice from Cousin Clarence?
This story is another very vivid tale from Lucy Strange (author of The Secret of Nightingale Wood and Our Castle by the Sea). Gosswater is imaginary, but based on Ullswater in the Lake District and it felt very real. The stately home was also beautifully described, the rooms and the staircase, the galleries and bedrooms. This book seems to bring the setting to life in glorious technicolour.
Whilst this is a ghost story, the living people were far more frightening than the ghosts. Clarence is a monster of sorts, living only to be Earl of Gosswater and attract a wealthy bride. He cares nothing for Agatha and his callous treatment of her is truly shocking. It would also make an interesting talking point to look at why he was the heir and not the direct descendant of the former earl. Primogeniture is still a thorny topic amongst the aristocracy and even in this day and age women can’t inherit some estates.
The cover by Helen Crawford-White is suitably chilly and ghostly and the chapter headings are adorned with tendrils of ivy to add atmosphere. Even the inside covers are beautifully illustrated with falling leaves.
The timing of this book seems to coincide with Halloween, but this is more of a winter story. It would be a wonderful book to read aloud, stopping at all the exciting moments and creating an atmosphere sitting in a warm classroom on a cold day.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to our Review Panel member for reviewing it.
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