All the Lovely Bad Ones

I’m sitting here in the dark writing about a ghost story. No, I’m not trying to set the mood for this post. For some reason, I have no lights in my library this morning. (Everything else is working fine, but it’s kind of dark in here.) I can’t see to do much work in the library, and very few students are coming down to check out, so I decided to go ahead and write up this post on a book I finished yesterday, All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for the past few years, and my students finally hounded me into it. If you’ve ever read any of Hahn’s other books (like The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall), you know that All the Lovely Bad Ones, winner of the 2011 South Carolina Children’s Book Award, is yet another ghost story. I just wasn’t prepared for exactly how much it would freak me out. This may be a children’s book, but it is creepy. Luckily, I read it during one sunny afternoon, so I didn’t have to worry about reading it in the dark. (Writing about it in the dark is bad enough, and, yes, I am a wuss of the highest order.)

In All the Lovely Bad Ones, siblings (and all-around troublemakers) Travis and Corey are spending the summer with their grandmother at her inn at Fox Hill, Vermont. The Fox Hill Inn has a history of being haunted, but the kids’ grandma thinks that’s all a bunch of hokum. Travis and Corey, though, think a haunted inn might be just the thing to boost business, so they get it into their heads to make visitors believe that Fox Hill does have some ghostly residents. What starts out as a prank, however, quickly becomes more than either child ever bargained for…

Without realizing what’s happened, Travis and Corey have apparently awakened the real ghosts of Fox Hill. Some of the ghosts seem to be rather harmless–moving things around, pinching, pulling hair, setting mice loose in the kitchen, etc.–but there’s one ghost who terrifies all who encounter her (even other ghosts). This ghost seems to be malicious, and Travis and Corey soon realize that it’s up to them to find out who this ghost is and how to finally put her–and the other ghosts–to rest.

As Travis and Corey search for what really happened at Fox Hill in the past, they will encounter some disturbing truths. Fox Hill has a dark history, and they will have to make things right before the ghostly residents can have the peace they’ve long been denied. Will these two kids be able to give the ghosts of Fox Hill the rest they crave? Are all of the ghosts even willing to move on? Find out how the dead are finally put to rest–and how the living cope with the truth–when you read All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn.

After reading this book, it’s easy to see why so many of my students love it. It’s scary without being too terribly threatening, and good wins out in the end. (I’ve only read two of Mary Downing Hahn’s books at this point, but I assume that most, if not all, of her ghost stories are like this. It works.) This book may also convince young readers to research the concept poor farms or poorhouses and how the poor were–and still are–treated in society.

For more information on All the Lovely Bad Ones and other books by Mary Downing Hahn, visit You may also enjoy the book trailer below. It was created by librarian Analine Johnson from Centeno Elementary in Laredo, Texas. This trailer perfectly captures the creepy tone of All the Lovely Bad Ones. Enjoy!

Published in: on April 30, 2013 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bad Girls Don’t Die

You know you’re a wuss when you can only read a moderately scary book in daylight hours.  I am that wuss.  I started reading Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender on Thursday before the Harry Potter premiere, and it became clear fairly early that I would not be able to read this book at night or when I was alone.  Since I live by myself, this posed a bit of a problem.  I confined my reading of this book to daylight hours and had to find something a bit lighter to read during the evenings.  (Fortunately, this was not difficult.)  Anyhoo, I’ve finally finished this book, and, quite honestly, I’m glad to be done with it.  I love fantasy books, but when you throw possessed children and evil dolls at me, I kind of lose it.  My imagination is a bit too overactive to handle stuff like that.  Maybe you’ll do better than I did.

Alexis is not popular, and she really doesn’t want to be.  She has no friends, and she spends most of her free time pursuing her love of photography.  She and her family live in one of the creepiest old houses in their town, but Alexis doesn’t mind since the house is the perfect subject for her photographs.  When things begin to get weird with Alexis’ little sister, Kasey, however, Alexis’ feelings about the house start to change.

Alexis knows that something is seriously wrong with her sister.  Kasey is not the girl she once was.  She is obsessed with dolls, she can’t remember long stretches of time, and one minute she’s a scared little girl, and the next she’s eerily confident.  Alexis begins to investigate Kasey’s behavior and discovers that this may not be the first time a person has been changed while in this house.  What is going on?  Alexis is determined to figure it out, but she must go to some unlikely sources for help (namely the head cheerleader, one of her “enemies”).  Can she discover the truth before her sister is beyond all hope?  What is causing the changes in Kasey’s behavior and the mysterious happenings in the house?  It is up to Alexis to find out before she, her sister, or anyone else is hurt…or worse.  Read Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender to uncover the truth.

For more information about this creepy book and its author, visit

Published in: on November 21, 2010 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Ghosts of Kerfol

I’ve never read Edith Wharton’s ghost story Kerfol, but I may have to pick it up after reading The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes.  Noyes’ collection of stories takes Wharton’s original story and runs with it.

In Wharton’s Kerfol, a young woman is suspected of murdering her much older (and evil)  husband.  The guy was found on the stairs, and he appeared to have been killed by dogs.  But there were no (live) dogs at Kerfol.  Every time his young wife became attached to a dog, the lord of the manor killed the dog and placed the carcass in his wife’s bed.  (Nice guy, right?)

Deborah Noyes begins her collection of stories by telling the original tale from a servant girl’s point of view.  The next story takes place nearly two hundred years later and involves a young artist.  The next involves a party girl in the 1920’s and one of the creepiest scenes in the book.  The fourth story tells of a young American couple on vacation in the 1980’s.  The fifth and final story occurs in 2006 and centers on a deaf teenager who has been hired as a caretaker of Kerfol.  Each story has its own connection to the old manor, and each story has a sort of understated creepiness about it.  I don’t think this is blatant, in-your-face horror, but, if you happen across a really old house, the stories in this book will come back to “haunt” you, so to speak.

At first, this book reminded me of Caroline B. Cooney’s Enter Three Witches, and I think the first story in the book keeps to that idea of retelling the original story from another character’s point of view.  The other stories, however, expanded on the original and kind of reminded me of movies like The Sixth Sense (which is terrifying in its own right) or The Haunting.

I really recommend The Ghosts of Kerfol to anyone who likes understated horror.  There is no real gore or graphic violence in this book, but you still may feel like something is crawling up the back of your neck when you read it.

Published in: on May 22, 2009 at 8:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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