Book Review: The Haunting of Granite Falls by Eva Ibbotson
American millionaire Hiram C. Hopgood will stop at nothing to make his daughter, Helen, happy—even if it means buying her an ancient Scottish castle and shipping it back to Texas. Assembling the castle isn’t a problem for the oil tycoon . . . it’s the ghosts that worry him. Hopgood has made up his mind: the ghouls have got to go. But these spirits don’t spook so easily. Instead, they make their way to America, where they meet up with a magical severed hand and three fiendish, cross-dressing kidnappers for a Texas-sized adventure with a ghostly Scottish flair.
Proudly presenting Q&A with the kiddo, courtesy of my 10-year-old son, in which I ask my kiddo to describe a book he’s enjoyed recently and he gives his opinions, more or less unfiltered by mom.
Without further ado:
Q: What book do you want to talk about?
A: The Haunting of Granite Falls.
Q: What was it about?
A: [Note: The kiddo didn’t feel like giving a plot summary, so here’s the mom version: An American millionaire buys a Scottish castle for his sickly daughter, has the castle shipped to America to be rebuilt in the heart of Texas, and unintentionally gets a handful of castle ghosts to go with it. Scottish orphan Alex and the millionaire’s daughter Helen form a fast friendship, and need to call upon the ghosts for help when a dastardly kidnapping plot threatens their safety. Much mayhem ensues.]
Back to the kiddo:
Q: Who was your favorite character?
A: The Severed Hand [a ghostly disembodied hand who haunts the local cinema and the mineshafts underneath]. He’s really fun, he can cook, he’s an author, and he’s also a Hand of Glory.
Q: Who else did you like?
A: Flossie [the ghost of a 5-year-old girl, currently wreaking havoc as a poltergeist]. She’s really funny, and she messes up everything.
Q: What was your favorite part of the book?
A: When all the action was happening [towards the end] in the theater and in the mineshaft. [Note: A scary kidnapping in the mines, a daring rescue by the ghosts, much chasing about, shouting, scaring, and… heroic ghosts!]
Q: How would you describe the book overall?
A: Lots of cliffhangers. A tiny bit scary. Mostly funny, silly, weird, and mysterious.
Q: Who do you think would like the book?
A: My friends. If you have a sense of humor, you’ll like this book.
Q: Did you think this was a good reading level for you?
A: There were some words I didn’t understand [Note: that’s where moms come in handy], but otherwise it was fine. I probably could have read it on my own but it would have taken a lot longer.
Q: Would you want to read more books by this author?
A: It depends what they’re about.
Q: Would you want to read more ghost stories?
A: Maybe. It depends what kind. If they’re scary, then I wouldn’t want to read them before bed-time. That would give me nightmares.
Mom’s two cents: This was one book that we both could enjoy. It worked well as a read-aloud, but a kid who’s comfortable reading chapter books solo should be able to handle this one just fine. The kiddo and I found The Haunting of Granite Falls to have just the right combination of funny elements (a Viking ghost named Krok Fullbelly is good for all sorts of laughs) and dramatic action. 12-year-old Alex makes a fine hero as well, a nice mix of sensitivity and loyalty, with a dash of Scottish laird in him as well. I was a bit uncomfortable with the bad guys, who were more seriously threatening than I typically expect in a book aimed toward ages 8 – 12; in particular, the ringleader, a woman with many awful traits, among them a fondness for souvenirs of Hitler, was especially distasteful. Still, the book overall was a success. Author Eva Ibbotson has a delightful writing style, humorous and exciting, that really appeals to my son and keeps me entertained as well. We both give this one high marks.
So there you have it. We’ll be back with more book opinions from my kiddo, whenever I can get him to talk books again.