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.

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