A dark-blue car swung into the gravel driveway in front of the house and stopped in the shade of an enormous fig tree. The rear doors were flung open and three children and a woolly spoodle tumbled out. Barking like mad, the dog began to run backwards and forwards across the garden, chasing all the new smells. The Brewster children stood in a line staring up at the house.
Ben, the youngest, wriggled with excitement, running his hands back and forth through his wild mop of curly hair. ‘Look at the towers!’
His eldest sister, Binnie, wasn’t nearly as impressed. ‘It’s weird.’ Umpteen bangles jangled together as she crossed her arms. ‘It looks creepy.’
Ellen wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Her brown eyes widened trying to take in every detail of the house in front of her. ‘It’s … unusual,’ she said.
Ellen and her family have moved to a new house. Well, an old house. A very old house full of secrets. The kids at her new school say there’s a ghost, but Ellen thinks it could be something else, something more. The more she explores, the more mysterious the house seems. There’s the dried up fountain that suddenly spouts water. There are the messages that seem to be just for her. As her family adjusts to their new house, Ellen becomes more unsettled. A trio of local bullies seem to have her in their sights. Only the house can provide the answers. At first, there seem to be only questions. Why can’t they find their way into one of the towers? Ellen is determined to unravel the mysteries of the house, which looks to her to be alive. Its fate seems to be tied up with hers. And time is running out.
This is an imaginative spooky mystery for young readers. Although there are ghosts suggested, there are no ghosts, well not yet anyway. In many ways, this feels like the first in a series. Ellen needs her wits about her, and many other skills besides if she is going to work out just what’s going on. Readers will be racing to see if they can solve the puzzles before she can. What at first seems like a mystery with an old house becomes something much more complex. Look out for the clocks counting up the time. Or should that be counting it down? Recommended for mid-primary readers.
88 Lime Street – The Way in, Denise Kirby
Omnibus Books 2015 ISBN: 9781742991009
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller