Timecatcher, by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, for Timeslip Tuesday

Timecatcher, by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Orion Childrens, May 2010, UK), is a time slip book like no other I have ever reviewed, in that it involves ghosts time travelling back into the past through a magical portal! I do not know of any other books with actively time-travelling ghosts.

G. is a ghost boy, haunting the old Dublin Button Factory where he died in a freak accident several years ago-- lonely, bored, and at loose ends in death.   Jessie is a girl new to the city, whose attention he attracts, leading her into the old factory, which has now been refurbished as miscellaneous business spaces/artists studios.   There Jessie meets two private detectives who have a secret--the stairs in their office that lead nowhere actually lead to a time portal that opens every seven years.  And there in the old factory is the ghost of the man, Master Greenwood, who inadvertently opened this Timecatcher back in the thirteenth century, and who has been guarding it ever since, hoping to find some way to close it.  No living person has ever used it, but ghosts can come and go...

Then there's a third ghost, a bad one, who wants to use the magic of the time portal for the most selfish of ends.   He has powers the good guys don't know about....and he's on his way to the Button Factory.  The Timecatcher is about to open again...

(and the bad guy has told every ghost in Dublin about this opportunity to be ghostly travellers in time, so that they will mob the Button Factory and distract the good guys--this ghostly tourist episode, though just a side note, was lots of fun!)

As well as the central story plot--the bad ghost trying to take over the Timecatcher and team of ghosts and living people trying to find the secret of how to close it--there's a substantial character-driven plot.  G. the ghost boy only the wispiest memory of his life before he became a ghost, and has spent his death years aimlessly working small mischiefs, and watching the artists at work in their studios.   G. is not particularly fond of Master Greenwood (who indeed is much too preoccupied with his weighty concerns to be a good friend to a kid), and Master Greenwood does not regard G. in a particularly favorable light.    And so G. is faced with a character-growing situation--does he work to become trustworthy, and a good friend to Jessie and the rest, sharing his own particular ghost skill (a useful one) with the team?   Or will he let his resentment and care-less attitude to life and death win?  And will the others trust him, or not?  I liked this aspect of the book.

Jessie is there primarily to be the reader's entree into the story, and for her it is more an adventure than a character-changing experience.  But still, she is a likable girl, with a bit of backstory (the missing father, lonely mother, new girl in strange place, etc.) and enough initiative to be a valuable member of the team.  Master Greenwood's backstory, on the other hand, though perhaps a bit contrived, is extraordinary.....

There is also a very nice ghost cat who's travelled through time.    Jessie's terrier also gets lots of page time, and those who like small dogs will appreciate him.

Short answer: A ghost-filled  time-slip story with a nice dash of character development that entertained me lots.


  1. I will grab a copy of this. You once again caught my attention.

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  2. A Christmas Carol has time traveling ghosts! :P

    1. Well, yes, I guess they are! But they are more Moving Themselves Purposfully back and forth in time, instead of just popping back a few decades to catch a Beatles concert the way the ghosts do here.


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