The Ghost of Gosswater - Lucy Strange
I read extracts of this spooky tale to my Y6 class in the run-up to our October (Halloween) half-term break, and there is a waiting list for it when we return to school - high praise indeed, and justifiably so - it's terrifc (if terrifying!).
A dark, Gothic ghost tale in the true Victorian sense, it has all the classic elements of a period scare story: old mansions, misty moors, crypts and gravestones, a young girl swindled of her rightful inheritance by a cruel male relative - I could keep going (and playing guess the literary links was great fun - Rebecca/Heathcliff/Hounds of the Baskervilles/Oliver Twist for starters), but suffice to say, this, in my view, is a classic in its own right as it takes all the best elements of those stories and combines them to create a truly creepy, atmospheric adventure that thrilled and spooked me right to the end with twists, turns, drama, action and grumpy geese aplenty!
Main character, Aggie, is a classic riches to rags heroine (a Secret Garden Clara-esque spoiled child at the start), whose cruel Cousin Clarence inherits Gosswater Hall and casts her out of the home she has known her whole life to live with a stranger who she is told is her real father. Cue revenge being sought on both sides, as Aggie sets out to right the wrong done to her, and find out more about who she really is and what the truth of her past is, and Clarence sets out to retrieve the rest of the inheritance he feels he is owed (for Aggie did not leave empty-handed!).
Thrilling dramatic descriptions of chases, misty and mysterious Lake District moors and islands, and ghostly appearances at windows in the middle of a storm made this fast-paced and gripping, and twists, turns and reveals in the plot kept me turning pages late into the night (with the light kept on only so that I didn't strain my eyes, obviously....!). I truly loved this book - not being a horror/ghost story fan, it was out of my comfort zone- but the quality of the writing and the desire to see how things turned out for Aggie and the cast of characters involved in her story may well have converted me to the genre, and if not, then definitely to author Lucy Strange's writing!
Lucy was also truly fantastic as a virtual guest author for my class of Year 6 readers, who she gave a masterclass to on the finer points of creating good characters and tips to terrify readers! Highly recommended if you are looking for a virtual visit in these times.
Find out more about author Lucy Strange (and if you're a teacher - book a visit!) at https://lucystrange.org/ and follow her on Twitter as @theLucyStrange
Find out more, read an extract, and buy a copy through publisher Chicken House, at
https://www.chickenhousebooks.com/books/ghost-of-gosswater/ or follow them on Twitter as @chickenhsebooks