Ghost Chamber by Celia Rees
|Ghost Chamber by Celia Rees|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Excellent tension, multiple points of view and a straightforward style make this mix of ancient conspiracy and the supernatural a book with wide-ranging appeal. Recommended for all junior lovers of ghost stories.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: January 2007|
|Publisher: Hodder Children's Books|
When the Goodman children are packed off by their mother to stay with their archaeologist father while she goes on holiday with her new boyfriend, they have mixed feelings. They don't want their mother to go away because they definitely don't like Roger. However, they do look forward to spending time with their father, Philip, a man more wedded to his work and his latest book than he ever was to his wife and family. Philip has bought a crumbling old pub in the middle of the English countryside and is in the middle of investigating its history. Like many villages in England with Temple in the name, Temple Marton has an ancient connection with the mysterious order of Templar Knights, disbanded over five hundred years ago. The pub that Philip has bought is thought not only to be haunted, but also to have some connection with this Templar history. This connection isn't just the stuff of gossiping legend, as the Goodman children are about to find out...
Ghost Chamber has a lot to recommend it. It's a deliciously creepy story about ancient mysteries and the dangers of meddling with them. First published in 1997, it's reissued here for contemporary children given a new interest in old sects and secrets by the success of The Da Vinci Code. However, it's not an adventure-thriller. It's a story of the supernatural. There are time slips, unearthly powers, apparitions and freak storms and it's all stonkingly good stuff with a wide-ranging appeal.
I like Celia Rees. She writes a straightforward book with plenty of action and enough plotting interest to hold the attention of the reluctant reader middle teen, but eschews complicated imagery and metaphor, making her books suitable also for confident readers of about nine and up. In Ghost Chamber, she makes doubly sure of this by telling the story from several points of view - we get inside the skin of Sally, the earnest oldest sister, who is sixteen and of Hugh, the middle brother, a thirteen-year-old desperate for drama and gore and ghosts. We also see events through the eyes of Edna, an old and superstitious woman from the village, through the eyes of secular Philip, dismissive of the supernatural and through the eyes of Mark Garvin, henchman to Holt, the book's villain. These varying points of view give Ghost Chamber an appeal to both young and old and girl and boy.
It is scary, but all ends well and there won't be too many fears for the younger reader at bedtime. The creepiness in Ghost Chamber is mostly in the tension and there isn't a great deal of visual gore, it's all in the suggestion. Parents of particularly sensitive children might like to read it first, just to make sure, but I think the book is fine for all those aged nine and up, and particularly reluctant readers who don't want over-complication, just a rattling good read.
My thanks to the publisher, Hodder, for sending the book.
Children who prefer their horror to come with visual gore attached might prefer Darren Shan's Demonata series and those who enjoy this kind of cerebral creepiness but are looking for something a little more advanced might enjoy Marcus Sedgwick's My Swordhand Is Singing.
Ghost Chamber by Celia Rees is in the Top Ten Books For Children Who Love To Be Scared Silly.
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