There's grumpy, limping Uncle George, mousey Miss Emily, and reclusive Cousin Howard, who hardly ever leaves his library.
But the children are especially enchanted by the cattle of Clawstone Park - rare and beautiful beasts, as white as snow and as wild as wolves. No one knows where they came from, but the owners of Clawstone have always protected them. So, as the castle crumbles away, Madlyn and Rollo devise a money-raising scheme.
Definitely meant for younger children, and even so I wouldn't call this one of the author's best. I missed the engaging, eccentric characters she created in Secret Countess, Company of Swans, and Magic Flutes. The detailed descriptions of gross hauntings didn't seem like a satisfying substitute.
I thought this would be narrated by David Tennant who I heard was brilliant reading this book. Not an interesting read this narrator. It was an error in purchase--wish I could return it. I'll be looking for his version. *sigh*
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I've called this a morality tale because - essentially - it is really. The bad people get punished for doing bad deeds by plucky children. The sophisticated bit is that, whilst the outcome is never COMPLETELY in doubt (good will triumph) there are enough dead ends & plot complications to keep a 9 year old hanging. The overall theme is kindness to animal & money isn't everything.
There is a gloriously spooky, slightly rundown atmosphere to this book. One of our favorite parts was when the children auditioned some "proper" ghosts for Clawstone Castle, as its resident ghost was rather shy. There are some glorious bits where the ghosts get stage fright, or design new set pieces to scare the visitors in turn - but be warned that the descriptions are suitably gory (particularly the ghost rat chewing away at the flesh of a ghost chest) which makes this book not suitable for the squeamish or very young.
I would recommend this book. There is something gloriously Famous Five about it, as the children are essentially doing all the detective work and pulling the plot along, whilst the adults tend to just make a mess of things.