Thursday, 16 October 2014
Review: Mountwood School for Ghosts by Toby Ibbotson
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Format: Hardcover / paperback / eBook
Released: October 9th, 2014
Fredegonda, Goneril, and Drusilla are Great Hagges, much more important and much rarer than regular old hags. They think that ghosts these days are decidedly lacking and that people haven't been scared of ghosts for years. So one day they decide that something needs to change - it's time for these ghosts to learn a thing or two about being scary. And what better way to teach them than to set up their very own school for ghosts?
I'll be honest here: I've only ever read one Eva Ibbotson book, and that's One Dog and His Boy. I loved it and have been meaning to read more, but I haven't gotten round to it yet. Mountwood School for Ghosts is written by Eva's son, Toby Ibbotson, and is from an original idea she left behind. From what I can tell it employs her signature style and lovely writing, and it really is a great middle grade children's book.
The idea of Mountwood School for Ghosts is born when three old hagges, Fredegonda, Goneril and Drusilla, become disgruntled with the local ghosts and their inability to scare people to death. The school is supposed to restore terror and fear to local citizens, and provide a unique learning facility for any and all ghosts. It proves to be a very lucrative venture when a local community faces demolition, and suddenly the ghosts find themselves more important than they ever thought possible.
I love children's books like this: funny, dry and featuring paranormal elements. Toby Ibbotson has done a fantastic job of writing likeable, memorable ghosts and I have to say that little Percy is the best. His parents, Iphigenia and Ron, are brilliant too, and I wouldn't object to them starring in their own book! The first hundred pages or so really is ghostly, classic children's literature and remain my favourite part of the whole novel.
Although Mountwood School for Ghosts is primarily aimed at children, I'm sure many adults will appreciate it too. The prose and style of writing make it feel timeless, and the eclectic mix of ghosts is both amusing and clever. I thoroughly enjoyed my little trip to Mountwood, and I wouldn't be surprised if this marks the start of a successful writing career for Toby Ibbotson. I sincerely hope Mountwood School for Ghosts will return sometime in the future!