reviewed by Chris Richards.
Childish Spirits is a perfect steppingstone for preteens and young teens to widen their genre knowhow. It is written for young readers but has every appearance of a classic ghost story without ever becoming uncomfortably frightening. It is creepy and mysterious and horrible at times, but never too scary.
In this story, Ellie and her brother have moved into an old Manor house with their mother, who is employed to ready the property for public consumption. We discover Inchwood Manor originally housed the Fitzberranger family until the premature death of the last male heir – but he never left. Recent events force Ellie to ally herself with the spirit of a Victorian boy to save her family and help lay to rest the tumultuous history of the house. Secret tunnels, priest holes and all the classic characteristics of grand Victorian estates make a fascinating backdrop for this story which has a foot in both the modern time period and the past.
A lot of books for this age range engage in fantasy and otherworldliness. These are usually well received and can be wonderful, but these are not the only stories out there! When I was at school there were Scholastic Point- [insert genre here] books helping us to find our genre preferences. This book feels like a similar level of reading skill requirement but with a better story!
As an adult I added more subtext to the baddy’s backstory than is written. I doubt any child would overthink Miss McKendrick’s dramatic, historic love affair to the same extent but there was enough information there to add another level of engagement and allowed me to augment my interest. The pace of the story is brisk and accelerates towards a satisfactory ending. Rob Keeley has written 10 stories and my children and I are excited to read them all!
This book would be suitable for interested 10-year olds and older.
Published by Matador and available to buy from good bookshops and online. More information about the author can be found on his website: robkeeley.co.uk