The Great Hagges are bored – and disturbed. The quality of hauntings has declined, today’s ghosts are letting the side down. Their solution is to set up an exclusive school for ghosts: so Mountwood School is founded and students invited to register.
Toby Ibbotson takes up the pen which his mother, Eva, laid down. The result is a story full of the vigour, fun, warmth and easy storytelling that are the hallmarks of her writing. There is nothing new – the plot follows well worn paths in which a group of ill-assorted ( and often rather hideous) ghosts each with their own tragedy (usually somewhat ridiculous) band together to help humans in distress. The situation has been created by greed and the selfishness it generates – a favourite theme in Ibbotson’s books. The villains are suitably nasty; there is little room for gray. The values of family and community are firmly upheld. Our heroes Percy, Daniel and Charlotte together with the indomitable Mrs Wilder are easy to like; you want them to succeed. While adult readers might look for subtlety, young readers will be very satisfied with the certainties of the storytelling. This is made particularly accessible by the humour which pervades the whole. Like Dahl, the author understands the value of making your audience laugh. A more than worthy addition to the cannon and one to be welcomed by fans, young and old.