Book of the Week #15:

 

Haunting of Hiram,

by Eva Ibbotson

“I will buy your castle,” declared Hiram C. Hopgood. “But only if there are no ghosts!”

This is the condition the uber-rich American businessman makes.

And our young protagonist, Alex Macbuff, demonstrates the first rule of sales by looking him straight into the eyes and swearing the  castle would be completely ghost-free…

Of course, as you can guess, Castle Carra is not even nearly ghost-free. It is actually home to an assortment of ghosts, and young Alex must make them leave within a week…

No, this is not the beginning of the new Ghostbusters movie, but that of an adorable book by Eva Ibbotson.

Now, randomly featuring Eva Inbotson in the midst of Sidney Sheldon and Erich Segal might probably seem weird, but that is how I am… And there are times when one needs to just sit back and relax, and a book like this, on a cool, rainy day, is pretty much the perfect way to do that.

Despite being a children’s book, it is amazing how simply it portrays certain obvious and ridiculous traits of our lifestyle, like the way we stress ourselves to make more money and buy more things than we could ever need. And somehow, this does not seem obvious or ridiculous to most adults.

Another point of note is the hilarious reference of Deigo Maradona’s Hand of God in the 1986 Football World Cup; Haunting  of Hiram was published a year later.

There are many, many features that make the book as wonderful as it is… The plot of the unearthly trans-Atlantic adventure, while being pleasantly ridiculous, is quite well thought-out and well paced, and the setting reminds one of the classic American movies…

The ultimate selling point, however, is the intricacy and adorability of the protagonists. The ghosts all have been accorded deep, and fairly hilarious, backstories, which perfectly explains their behaviour throughout the story. And I always love that in a book…

Mr. Hopgood is pretty much the usual rich, protective father stereotype, with the addition of eccentricity which some Europeans apparently think is quite usual in American billionaires.

Alex Macbuff is also the stereotypical young hero. Brave, noble, kind, selfless, blah blah blah… You get the gist, I assume? Not that the character is unlikeable, in any way… Just, he is made from the same mould as Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker and Eragon and countless others, so, not all that fun…

The one who takes the cake is, undoubtably, little Helen Hopgood, who displays within her the same unique kindness and sweetness you’d see in some of the most lonely and unfortunately frail kids. She is probably one of my favourite female characters, ever.

One thing this book exemplifies, more than anything else, is that stereotypes exist for a reason, and if used effectively, and in conjucation with unique craziness, they can work pretty well…

Now, to whom would I recommend this book? Well, it has young kids, a bunch of ghosts, and an eccentric billionaire playing host. Much fun for everyone, right?

Well, you can find it here:

Okay, that is all for tonight.

Thank you…

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Published by

Yashas Mahajan

Author of Arrkaya: Origins, now available online... Increasingly being referred to as The Writer Guy...

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