Return to Harken House

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781399603355

Price: £7.99

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In the late 1930’s as the threat of war is building in Germany, twelve year old Julia arrives to spend the summer with her famous playwright father, only to find herself alone with Trudl, her Austrian stepmother. With Trudl preoccupied by the plight of her fellow countrymen in Europe, Julia retreats into the scary Gothic novels left behind by her older siblings, and becomes haunted by dreams of Joshua Harken, the notorious alchemist who built the 17th century house, and then disappeared, accused of murder. Even after she joins forces with local boy Tim Bellyap to investigate the stories of Joshua’s ghost, she is afraid to tell anybody about the terrifying voices coming unbidden from somewhere inside her chest…

In a compelling exploration of loneliness and adolescent insecurities, peopled by ghosts from the old house, this is the powerful story of Julia’s awakening from her nightmare world.

Also published as Voices, and set in Joan Aiken’s own supposedly haunted childhood home, Jeake’s House in Rye, Sussex, this Y.A. ghost story draws on some of her own childhood memories to create an unusual thriller.

“When reduced to its essence, Julia’s story may not be so very different from that of Aiken’s Wolves Chronicles heroine Dido Twite: each girl must cope with a distant, unreliable father and learn to survive in a world peopled with self-absorbed adults. It is the exploration of these issues, even more than the fine storytelling, which makes this novel so compelling” Publisher’s Weekly
“Joan Aiken is the godsend to children who are at the age when they read as if there were no tomorrow” Washington Post

“An entertaining read, for readers who like to read suspenseful ghost stories with a hint of real menace. The ghostly elements of this story are nicely mirrored by the historical menace of the times, as Julia ruminates on the dangers of Hitler, whom she sees as a sort of spider, spreading his web out over Europe” Goodreads reviewer

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When reduced to its essence, Julia's story may not be so very different from that of Aiken's Wolves Chronicles heroine Dido Twite: each girl must cope with a distant, unreliable father and learn to survive in a world peopled with self-absorbed adults. It is the exploration of these issues, even more than the fine storytelling, which makes this novel so compelling
Publishers Weekly
Joan Aiken is the godsend to children who are at the age when they read as if there were no tomorrow...
Washington Post