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Took: A Ghost Story

Took: A Ghost Story

By Mary Downing Hahn

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2015)
When Daniel’s father loses his corporate job, the family abruptly leaves Connecticut for a simpler country lifestyle in West Virginia. Daniel and his little sister, Erica, find the dilapidated home, the woods that surround it, and their new school unwelcoming and often frightening. The kids at school tease them with scary tales of a strange old woman; an insatiable man-eating razorback hog; and a little girl who disappeared from their house fifty years before. Daniel does not believe these stories, but Erica becomes progressively stranger, withdrawing from their family and obsessing over her look-alike doll, Little Erica. Told alternatingly through Daniel’s first-person narration and a third-person omniscient narrator with a rural dialect that lets readers into the mind of “Old Auntie” the witch, the story evokes an enjoyably spooky atmosphere. As fall turns to winter, the family starts to unravel until Erica’s vulnerability allows Old Auntie to lure her away. Striking allusions to “Hansel and Gretel” show up throughout, but the plot itself ultimately goes in a different direction, leaving Daniel with the dangerous job of rescuing his sister from the witch’s house alone. Ending on a positive if still somewhat unsettling note, this creepy tale skillfully weaves in—and honors—the oral tradition of folklore, legends, and ghost stories. julie roach



 

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