Friday, April 30, 2010

Ghostly adventures

All the Lovely Bad Ones, by Mary Downing Hahn, is (if you'll forgive the expression) a haunting story. Travis and Corey are a brother and sister sent to spend the summer with their grandmother at her Vermont inn. Upon learning that the inn is supposedly haunted, they pester their grandmother for information and she states that in the three years she has run the place, she has never had a ghostly encounter of any kind. When some guests indicate they would be thrilled to witness otherworldly activity, Travis and Corey set out to give it to them. Their pranks attract the attention of visitors both earthly and not. The Inn at Fox Hill is flooded with guests and ghost hunters who find themselves under attack by ghostly pranksters.

Travis and Corey are frightened at what they have begun, but when the spirits approach them directly, they learn just what went on at Fox Hill to cause the dead to be restless. Determined to set things to rights, brother and sister begin bringing to light the horrors visited on the children who occupied Fox Hill in the mid-nineteenth century. As the truth comes out, the search for a solution takes on more urgency.

I spook easily, so I am not a fan of ghost or horror stories, either in print or on screen, and I am glad I read this one during daylight. I am, however, unequivocally glad I read it. Travis and Corey are believable, and the history of the fictional Fox Hill is credible. There is nothing in it I would feel uncomfortable letting a third-grader read, but it will also appeal to older children who simply like a good ghost story.

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