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Ghost Knight

Review

Ghost Knight

Jon Whitcroft feels like Harry Potter must have felt when he lived under the stairs with the Dursleys. He has been sent off to a boarding school in Salisbury of all places. Yes, it is true this was his late father’s school --- but somehow Jon suspects that the real reason he is there is because his mother has fallen for this dentist guy Jon calls “the Beard.” Jon has been the man of the family since he was four years old, but now with The Beard around, nobody seems to care what happens to him. His mother is certainly too distracted to pay attention to him, so what can he do? The fates are against him.

"With romance, demons, witches, ghosts, castles and pet toads all over the place, fans of Harry Potter will love GHOST KNIGHT from beginning to end and hope there are many more adventures ahead for Jon Whitcroft."

At first, he is not too impressed with Salisbury. Yes, the cathedral is world famous, beautiful and full of history, but so what? Let all those tourists have fun because Jon is “Banished. Homeless. Mother-, dog-, and sisterless.” He lives in a building that was known as the Bishop’s Palace.  There are endless corridors, rooms, doors and staircases, plus lots of strange faces. He has been put in a three-room, meaning he has two roommates:  Angus Mulroney and Stuart Crenshaw. So here he is, like it or not. Now what will he do?

The “now what” is soon filled with the most unexpected adventure any boy could ever imagine --- even Harry Potter would find this exciting. Jon is going through his long days being somewhat interested in the colorful histories of the area, meeting his new teacher, Mr. Rifkin, getting better acquainted with the Popplewells who supervise the quarters, and catching insights into his quirky but nice roommates. However, on his sixth night at the school, Jon is awakened by noises outside his window. When he looks, he sees three ghostly figures on horses: “They looked like men who’d had their blood sucked out by the night.” He is terrified as they point, laugh, wave their bloody swords and stare at him.

Jon thinks he may be hallucinating until he walks with his class outside the next evening and the three ghosts appear again, but this time with a fourth one, even more horrible than the other three. When Jon starts running, they pursue him and call him “Hartgill.” Hargill is his mother’s maiden name, but what does that mean? He knows they mean him harm, and he is totally terrified.  More upsetting is the fact that no one believes him, and he feels even more alone.

Life can change just like that! For Jon, it changes yet again when the next day at lunch, a dark-haired girl sits down next to him. She wants to know all about the ghosts and doesn’t seem surprised by his story. Her name is Ella Littlejohn. She is beautiful, smart, and her grandmother, Zelda, is reputed to be a witch. In fact, both Ella and her grandmother know all about the ghosts that haunt the area. Four ghosts, the lovely Ella, and a very interesting grandmother with pet toads --- oh yes, life is definitely getting more interesting for Jon.

It just wouldn’t be fair for those who want to read GHOST KNIGHT to reveal anything else, because there is so much more to tell. There are demon hounds, the ghost of a boy chorister who was killed by the evil Lord Stourton (one of the ghosts after Jon), and the terribly romantic story of William Longspee and his lovely wife, Ela. But it isn’t as simple as all that. Why are the ghosts after Jon? What connection is there between the ghost of Knight Longspee and Stourton? What does Longspee want from Jon, and how can his spirit rest? 

Illustrations by Andrea Offermann offer just the right ethereal touch to Cornelia Funke’s book, and an excellent glossary explains some of the complicated bloodlines as well as important historical happenings. Without even knowing it, readers will find out so many interesting things about the medieval world and the people who inhabited it.

This is a book full of great mysteries, twists, turns and amazing surprises. It’s hard not to like a story about knights, especially ones who haunt castles. With romance, demons, witches, ghosts, castles and pet toads all over the place, fans of Harry Potter will love GHOST KNIGHT from beginning to end and hope there are many more adventures ahead for Jon Whitcroft.

Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on June 1, 2012

Ghost Knight
by Cornelia Funke

  • Publication Date: May 7, 2013
  • Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316056162
  • ISBN-13: 9780316056168