TITLE: THE HAUNTED HOUSE ON THE LITTLE EGG HARBOR RIVER
AUTHOR: LYNNE LEATHAM
PUBLISHER: INDEPENDENT, Self-published
PUBLISHED DATE: Copyright 2015.
GENRE: Fiction, children (middle-grade), mystery/suspense.
FORMAT: Paperback, 107 pages,
IDENTIFICATION: ISBN 13:978-1515386780
MY REVIEW: 3 Stars Out of 5
REVIEW TITLE: “A SPOOKY TALE FOR MIDDLE-GRADE READERS”
When Trey hits his baseball through the old mansion’s window next door, he and his sister, Kaylee, go in after it. Inside, it was almost as if they climbed into the eighteenth century. They discover some rather strange and unusual things in the library—a portrait of a beautiful woman with a mysterious scroll in her hand and a white rose in her hair, a piano whose keys are void of dust, and a mysterious key. However, when Trey spies a statue of a gnome or elf on the fireplace, he turns to leave. But when he looks back toward the statue, it has disappeared. Did someone take it, or did it move mysteriously on its own?
Rumors around the little community of Chestnut Neck, New Jersey, say the mansion is haunted and a pirate’s treasure is hidden somewhere inside. Although Kaylee doesn’t believe in ghosts or the rumors of pirate’s gold, her curiosity takes them on an adventure in the old mansion while Tre follows reluctantly behind.
Are the rumors true? Is there a treasure of gold? Do Kaylee and Tre find it? Is the mansion really haunted? Is Tre’s fear of the haunted house because of the rumors that have circulated for centuries or because of something they find inside…
There indeed is no lack of creativity or shortage of imagination in this book. Within the pages of this two-hundred-year-old mysterious tale, there is something for any and every curious mind of young readers. But, I also think the abundance of ideas and thematic influences creates a very complex tale and contributes to confusion as readers try to sort through the details to solve the riddle and its mystery. The author presents this book as "a classic mystery suited for kids of all ages." However, in my opinion, the content persuades me to suggest the minimum age of readers to be twelve-years-old. My inclination to suggest this minimum reading age is because some of the frightening things about some of the characters could possibly be troubling to young minds and keep them from sleeping at night.
The author spins a mysterious tale with aspects of pirates, hidden treasure, a treasure map, a cryptic riddle to be solved, a scroll and seal of power to the underworld, a haunted mansion, numerous mysterious portraits, ghosts, and murder. Also, the author utilizes the tale of the death of a premature newborn and his mother shortly after the infant's birth, an aggressive Doberman Pincer, Heaven and Hell, poetic love sonnets, the American Revolution, Greek mythology, and a gnome.
I'd like to give praise to the author for effective use of descriptive language in illustrating the contents and character of the deserted old mansion. Likewise, the author distinguishes the differences between good ghosts/spirits and those that have an evil nature. I especially enjoyed the humor the author gave to the character qualities of the ghosts, Toolie and Fergis, and how they faithfully served their master, Nathaniel Whittier. I also enjoyed the brother and sister relationship between Trey and his older sister, Kaylee, their banter, conflict, and protectiveness of each other. Getting a brief glimpse of their parents, Harold and Betty Morgan, and their family home was delightful. I dare say, the family Doberman Pincer, Bosley, lived up to my fear of that breed of dog…YIKES!
I’ve seen more than one artistically styled cover for this book, and the one covering the book that I read was very captivating, enticing a reader to give the story another chance if they had become confused by the complex tale. I enjoyed the image of the haunted mansion and spooky full moon on the front cover, complemented by the mysterious scroll on the back cover. I give praise to the cover design.
I applaud the author for enabling the children to be the heroic force of good that ultimately and dramatically overcomes evil. The epilogue is also very satisfying.
This self-published book holds true to its claim of being a tale of mystery, adventure, pirates, ghosts, and buried treasure. It's a complex yet short work of fiction for middle-grade readers. I would suggest the minimum reading age to be twelve-years-old. As a disclaimer, some portions of the book are frightful for young readers. Also, numerous errors scattered throughout the manuscript can be distracting when reading.
ALICE M. BATZEL
Published Playwright, Journalist, Freelance Writer
Review posted 10/30/2017 on:
Reviewer’s website (Reviews, 2017 #7)
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