________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 7 . . . . October 14, 2011


The Haunting of Amos Manor.

Richard Stevenson.
Kingsville, ON: Magpie Books/Palimpsest Press, 2011.
164 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-926794-07-5.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Alicia Cheng.

***½ / 4



I was interrupted by the luffing sound of wings above the well, and spun around to see what it was. A crow had settled on the stone arch that held the hand crank for the bucket. It seemed intent on our conversation, cocked its head as if it were listening to us.

Karen grew pale and clutched my arm with a grip I would have thought impossible of her. I remember being surprised to see her handprint, and the way the blood rushed back to the incredible whiteness of the finger marks afterward.

“Relax! It’s just a dumb old crow. It won’t hurt you.”

But even as I spoke, I could see there was something unusual about the bird. Not in the way it looked, but in the way it acted. It seemed to be daring us to cross some invisible line marking off its territory. Was it protecting something?

The Waldman family has just moved from Saskatoon, SK, to Chilliwack, BC. Mr. Waldman, the manager of the new Chilliwack Safeway, is looking for an old home with many possibilities. Through a real estate advertisement, the Waldmans move into an old house called Amos Manor, a house that seems to offer endless possibilities. His son and daughter, Mark, 12, and Karen, 4, on the other hand, are not so sure about this old house. Before they even move in, they have a near car accident because of a crow. Then Mark gets pushed off the ladder by some invisible force. After the family moves into Amos Manor, Karen starts seeing spirits and having strange dreams. Furniture and other objects get moved during the night. And there’s the strange crow that keeps reappearing. Is it a spirit? Are there ghosts living in this house? If so, who are these ghosts? Are they the former residents of the house?

      Mark is determined to find out who is behind all these happenings as well as the story behind Amos Manor and its former residents. Using his amateur detective skills and his talent in science, Mark sets out to solve the mystery surrounding Amos Manor. Will Mark be able to do it alone? Or will he need his family’s help to uncover the long hidden mystery of Amos Manor?

      The Haunting of Amos Manor is a wonderful mystery filled with suspense and foreshadowing. Through Mark’s detective skills, readers will be intrigued in finding out the buried secrets of Amos Manor. As they follow Mark in uncovering the mystery, readers will also feel the tension and nervousness the characters feel. There's a lot of tension in the story, tension around whether to find out the past or leave it alone. There is also strain on the Waldmans who are intrigued by the secrets, but who are also scared about what such things as the crow and spirits mean and whether they will harm the family.

     There are not many scary moments in the book, but, when they occur, readers will have Karen at their side to help them through these times of stress and anxiety. As well, Mr. and Mrs. Waldman are always there to reassure Karen.

Highly Recommended.

Alicia Cheng is a Children’s Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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