The Haunting of Hiram
By Eva Ibbotson
Paperback, 172 pages
Macmillan Children's Book, 2001 (first published in 1987 also by Macmillan Children's Book)
On back cover of this edition I read the following teaser:
"I will buy your castle," declared Hiram C. Hopgood. "But only if there are no ghosts!""
What is young Alex MacBuff to do? He can't afford to keep his beloved Castle Carra - and an American millionaire has made him an offer he can't refuse.
But the castle is full of ghosts There's Krok the hairy Viking warrior, mad Miss Spinks, a hell-hound called Cyril, and a vampire with no teeth.
How can Alex stop them haunting Hirram?
So, when I began read this book, my mind was already set with story like this: Hiram wanted the castle of Carra that made tenants of this castle (read: ghosts of Carra) angry and haunted Hiram until that rich man died.
Then, is the story really like that? Hmm, better you read it by yourself. :)
This is the second book of Ibbotson I read after Dial a Ghost. I still like Ibbotson's work respect with children's literature (fantasy). Meaning I like The Hauntin of Hiram, but I like better Dial a Ghost. Actually both of the books have the same concept; an orphan -boy- who owns a castle and doesn't know what he should do to maintain it. Then the boy has many invisible friends (ghosts) to accompany him living in this cruel world. It seems I exaggerate everything, huh? Ok, let's continue.
At the first time, readers just see simple and easy problem to overcome. But when they come and join the action of the book, they will see the problem is grower and more complicated than teaser has offered. So twist plays its role here. Readers won't believe that they'll catch many surprises.
If you ask for moral value from this book, of course there are some you can think about after reading. Here I provide you some good quotes that you can consider with;
"The braver man is - and Krok had been very brave - the less he will bully little creatures who cannot defend themselves." ~Ibbotson, The Haunting of Hiram, 24.
"When you are thinking of people, you seem to see them everywhere." ~Ibbotson, The Haunting of Hiram, 28.
"Alex was shocked. Mr. Hopgood worked so hard and looked so worried that it hadn't seemed particularly wrong that he should be so rich. But people labelling their tummy buttons to show which of them was which, or keeping the rubbish warm with mink when in other countries children were starving, just couldn't be right." ~Ibbotson, The Haunnting of Hiram, 89.
"What sort of life was it, being a millionaire? No sort of life at all. His stomach was full of acid, he never had a decent night's sleep and his daughter danger from every vile sort of crook." ~Ibbotson, The Haunting of Hiram, 156.
This book is very interesting and good to be read by children aged 8-9. Moreover, it can be a good book to introduce ghost characters to children without scarring them.
This article is written to fulfill FYE; Fun Year Event with Children's Lit: Fun Month 4 by Bzee and English Books RC by Bunda Peni. :)
P.S. Above I attached book published by Gramedia although I didn't read that version. I read the book published by Macmillan with the same cover.