Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Back House Ghosts

Catherine Sefton (Martin Waddell)
Puffin Books

'You've excelled yourself this time, Ellen,' groaned her mother when Ellen had made the mistake and overbooked their guesthouse, so that the family had to camp out in the deserted old house at the back. It was not at all the sort of place for ghosts, but all the same Ellen began seeing and hearing things she shouldn't, and knew she was being haunted.
(Also published as 'The Haunting of Ellen')

The arrival of a unexpectedly large family of guests sends the two Bailey children, flighty Ellen and pragmatic Bella, out of their own rooms in the guest house they run along with their mother and into the ramshackle old cottage at the end of the garden.

The pair try to make the most of their circumstances but Ellen soon finds herself having visions of a family and of a time past. With the aid of a new friend from amongst the plethora of children roaming the guest house and her sceptical sister she begins investigating into the fate of the family whose memories and presence haunt her cottage.

Originally published in 1974 this book feels older. It's Blyton-esque adventure sub-plot mixed with a gentle and almost wistful ghost story makes it feel more 1950s than 1970s. It does though have a certain charm, the interplay between the various characters is nicely done and it's all wrapped up in 135 pages so it certainly doesn't linger.

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