Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Hunt for the Seventh


Sadly, I am way freakin' behind on the RIP IV challenge. I've only finished one book for heaven's sake! I'm so ashamed of myself. Luckily, I have plenty of time to knock off three more goodies and complete my goal. And I have to say, I've done well sticking with the short story reading this time around, so no more bookish self-berating. On to a review!
The Hunt for the Seventh, by Christine Morton-Shaw was a delight! I've been disappointed in some of my short story reading because I've had a really hard time finding traditionally creepy, scary stories. This adolescent novel (10 and up) was just the ticket to great Halloween reading. As an aside, Morton-Shaw is British, and this had a wonderful creepy-boarding-school-haunted-village feel to it. Do you know what I mean? It was sort of scary and cozy at the same time. And it felt very damp...
After his mother's death, Jim, his sister Sal, and his dad move to the large and menacing Minerva Estate where his dad will be head gardener. Soon after, Jim begins cataloging a bevvy of uncomfortable situations. He sees the shadow of a boy holding a white cat pacing back and forth in a locked room, the face of a blind hag screaming up at him from the dumbwaiter shaft, and it seems that generations of deceased Minerva children are trying to tell him something. Jim soon begins to sneak around in an effort to uncover the secrets of the dead Minerva children, but Lord Minerva is none too pleased. He catches Jim on his security cameras several times, and threatens to fire his father from the gardening job. As you might expect, Jim is far too deep into the mystery of Minerva Estate to abandon his quest.
This novel really has it all: a creepy estate, a haunted schoolroom, murder, and even pagan rituals! And it never seemed like overkill (pardon the pun...Whahahaha!). But really, Morton-Shaw created some really likable characters in Jim, his sister, and especially some of the peripheral characters like Mrs. B., the seemingly crabby, but secretly nurturing cook.
I hate to tell too much about this story for fear of giving something integral away, but just know that I couldn't be more pleased with it. It was fun, genuinely creepy, and launched me into the Halloween spirit in a big way. This was the perfect read to start RIP IV.

9 comments:

  1. 'And it felt very damp...' yep that's pretty much England. I actually find a lot of scary books have to reign in the rain in order to create a dark atmosphere, rather than a saturated one.

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  2. Haha I had to laugh when you mentioned it felt very damp - that's pretty much a year-round response to "how's the weather?" here in the Maritimes :)

    This book sounds great (and what a creepy cover), its going on my list. I think I may go on a spooky hunt at the library this weekend.

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  3. I took your advice and started reading from 20th Century Ghosts. Wonderful story I read from that collection. And, like you, I'm searching for more traditional, ghostly type stories. Loving the sound of this one so when I go to the library to pick up my holds I'm going to have to look for it!

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  4. I feel your pain about being behind! I'm only on my second book!! Although, in my defense, it's The Witching Hour by Anne Rice which is 1,100 pages long. I've been working on it for three weeks and have had to renew it already. Sigh...

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  5. Damp, cold: England. Damp, hot: Mississippi. Maybe I should write something creepy?

    Sounds like an awfully fun read. Great start, Andiloo.

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  6. I'm someone else who laughed when I read your damp comment. Today in Atlanta it was damp AND cold, very British, very un-South weather.

    This looks so good but phooey, my library doesn't have it! Do you think it's worth buying a copy?

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  7. Jodie, I love damp books! Atmosphere is what it's all about.

    Joanne, I can only imagine! Maybe I'm weird, but I love damp. It's a natural, guttural reaction to growing up in Texas where it's hot and dry 75% of the year. Blah! It's been overcast and is supposedly supposed to rain for five days, and I could not be happier! I think you would like this one a lot. I was really impressed, as you can tell. :D

    Iliana, I hope you can find it! It really is a delightfully scary tale, and such a wonderfuly "throwback" to more traditional ghost stories.

    Jen, you can tooootally get away with being behind thanks to The Witching Hour! I've never had much luck with Rice's work, unfortunately. I can't even remember how long it took me to read Interview with the Vampire, but it was just flat out scandalous!

    Nancy, Mississippi would be a GREAT spooky, damp setting! I'd buy the book!

    LOL, same weather here in Dallas, Lesley. It was a nice change! It is definitely worth buying a copy if you're into YA lit. It's one of the better YA scaries I've attempted in a long while. Especially if you like traditional ghost stories.

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  8. I thought this book was very good. And scary. I had Goose bumps on my goose bumps. This should really become a movie.

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  9. Don't be frustrate get going u can surely do it. Thanks for sharing.

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