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  • Writer's pictureTantra Bensko

Ghooolishly Good

I found The Haunting of Hawthorne by Ann Schraff in a Free Library in Berkeley, and it seemed like a good one to read to see what was going on with Gothic fiction for young people, because of the title -- The Haunting of --- is commonly used in that genre. It's more Ghost Story than true Gothic, but I enjoyed the experience of reading it. The prose was clearly and elegantly written, and the excellent concept is unique and inspiring.

A new young person with odd connections to the past decides to take on the vandals at Hawthorne High.

I was disappointed that I could tell very quickly who and what Basil was, as the mystery of what was going on was intriguing and that would have been fun to draw out longer, especially as there was so much hinting at it after that, and the revelation of it constituted the ending. The protagonist would surely have been able to figure it out, herself, so she came across as slow-witted therefore, which didn't make sense considering she was meant to be intelligent, and she wasn't provided any kind of disbelief in ghosts that would have kept her from figuring it out.

Other things that happened seemed to be there for the moral, such as the epilepsy, and I wished that hadn't been so heavy-handed, so I could get lost more easily in the story and believe it was true. More characterization that gave other sides to the characters beyond the morals and pushing the plot forward would have accomplished that. The lessons about health and respect for property etc. are solid ones, however, and I'd love to see this book be very popular.

I appreciated the characters' natural inclination to be wholesome and focus on true friendship, understanding of each other, working together for good, with light physical displays of affection rather than getting caught up in sexuality at a young age. I liked the characters, cared about them, and wanted the best for them.

I was very happy that one surprising, unpredictable thing happened in the plot that went against the trend of events.

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