7/9/18

The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery, by Allison Rushby

"A middle grade book about ghostly spying in WW II England?  Sign me up!" sums up my reaction to The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery, by Allison Rushby (Candlewick, July 24,2018), and I was (for the most part) not disappointed, and enjoyed the book lots.

When Flossie died, from complications of rheumatic fever when she was just 12, she found herself with a job to do.  She became the Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery in London, responsible for keep all the dead in her care at peace.  But the peace of London has been shattered by the blitz, and when Flossie sees the ghost of a Nazi officer snooping around St. Paul's, her suspicions are aroused.  Quite rightly, too--as the story unfolds, she finds that he is indeed the mastermind of a sinister plot to use his ghostly state to pass on top secret information back to Germany.

Flossie has no particular powers of her own, outside her own cemetery, but she's still determined to stop him.  But how?  Her path takes her to Germany, where she meets a ghost girl with secrets of her own, and requires her to work with the other Turnkeys of London, including one who seems almost hostile.

The story unfolds very nicely, building up the tension gradually as the bombs fall on London.  Flossie is a heroine to cheer for, as she navigates her various responsibilities to both the dead and the living.  An element of pathos such as pathos loving mg readers will appreciate is provided by a girl torn between living and dying after loosing her family in the Blitz, who Flossie tries to convince to choose life. If you are a fan of WW II stories for kids, this is a very interesting twist on the usual plots, that I appreciated lots!  My only disappointment was that at the end of the story, Flossie decides that her responsibilities are to the dead, not the living, and so she has no plans to go on to become a spy herself to help win the war.

disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher.

12 comments:

  1. Interesting review. I also just finished reading this but haven't yet reviewed it. I'm afraid I have very mixed feelings about it that need to be sorted out.

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    1. looking forward to seeing your thoughts...

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  2. This is a terrific concept for a book. Thanks for telling me about it. I will check it out.

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  3. I also quite enjoyed The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery, despite hoping it would be a bit spookier.

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    1. no, it really isn't at all spooky in ghost story sort of way...

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  4. Oh my gosh, this sounds so far up my alley! I love it! I'm going to have to definitely make sure to get my library to have it.

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  5. That cover is so awesome! Cute + gothic = yay! :)

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  6. I also just finished writing my review of this one. I was disappointed mostly because I hoped for more of a ghostly rather than historical tale. I agree it might better please readers interested in WWII.

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    1. I know what you mean-given that all the main characters where dead, it wasn't all that spooky!

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