Book Review: The Girl in the Locked Room

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Book #1 in Mary Downing Hahn’s “Chilling Tales & Frightful Adventures” Collection

It’s time to start the first book of my recent Costco investment, which is a collection of my favorite ghost-story children’s author’s ghost stories! I’ve only read one of Mary Downing Hahn’s ghost stories before, so I’m excited to delve into the rest of her books. I think I can relate to this story more than I’d care to admit (since I am, in essence, a girl in a locked room, writing and working from home), but this story was a nice way to start off Hahn’s collection of “Chilling Tales & Frightful Adventures”. Let’s take a closer look!

Summary

Tired of her parents dragging her around the country to restore old houses, Jules hopes that soon they’ll be able to settle down and have a permanent home. However, something seems eerie about this one. She keeps feeling like someone is watching her from the upstairs window and occasionally sees a blonde girl near the field on the estate. Determined to find out exactly what—or who—resides upstairs, Jules soon discovers the story behind the old house and wonders if she can help change the dreadful fate of those who once lived there.

Lily can’t remember when she last went outside, or how long she has been locked in this room, or even why she was locked in in the first place. While what she sees out the window seems to change each minute, every night is the same: men on horseback riding to her house and searching it for her. Luckily, they never find her hiding spot. Lily hopes they never will. Soon, she starts to see a dark-haired girl walking the property of her home and wonders if she will be the one to help her escape this room and tell her why she has been trapped here for so long…

Photo by Moreno Matkovic on Pexels.com

Likes:

  • Shift in perspectives. I liked that Hahn switched points of view in each chapter, between the ghost and the protagonist; it helped give the ghost of the story a voice, which I think is important in any ghost tale.
  • Setting. I always like to watch old homes get restored and stories taking place in older parts of the country, so Virginia seemed like a good place for this story to take root. As the protagonist discovers more about her surroundings, so do we as the readers.
  • Book art. The cover picture and the back cover picture were just stunning and drew me in from the start.

Dislikes:

  • The parents. I think that a lot of authors fall into the trap of making the parents of children’s books unlikeable. It’s not their fault, since children usually can’t relate very well to the skepticism of adults, but I found the fact that neither parent, one who was a historian and the other an author, wanted to find out about the history of the house a little out-of-character for them in this story.
  • Confusion at the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but what they discovered (or didn’t discover) on the third floor made me wonder about the logic of the ghost story (if there is any logic in a ghost story).

Author

Mary Downing Hahn is a very gifted storyteller. I was curious to see how she would make this ghost story different from the other one of hers I read and loved as a child, Wait Till Helen Comes, and was not disappointed. One would think that it’d be hard to find different premises for a ghost story and different ways to tell the tale, but I’m curious to see how different the other book in her collection are compared to these two.

Mary Downing Hahn is a very gifted storyteller. I was curious to see how she would make this ghost story different from the other one of hers I read and loved as a child, Wait Till Helen Comes, and was not disappointed. One would think that it’d be hard to find different premises for a ghost story and different ways to tell the tale, but I’m curious to see how different the other book in her collection are compared to these two.

It’s 2 for 2 so far!

Published by Ashley Weaver

I am a writer, reader, student, and teacher of literature and the English language.

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