Tag Archives: Allison Rushby

The Ghost Locket – Allison Rushby

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Walker Books

April 1st 2022

ISBN: 9781760654153
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Distributor: Walker Australia
Binding:
Release Date: April 1, 2022

Australian RRP: $17.99
New Zealand RRP: $19.99

Allison Rushby has repeatedly proven her gift for suspenseful spookiness for middle-grade readers and this new book, in my opinion, might just have tipped the scales of my favourite so far. Eleven-year-old Lolli (Olivia) has never known her mother, who died when she was just three months old. She knows that her mum had some mental health issues and a difficult life but that’s about all she knows. She’s been raised by her mum’s friend, Freya, somewhat by default really, but that hasn’t stopped the two developing a bond as close as any biological mother and child would have. Their other much-loved family member is Freya’s great-aunt, Elsie, owner of an extraordinary old house in Spitalfields, London.

The house is a museum that’s not a museum really. It’s an installation – a theatrical set, if you will – where each room reflects a different period of history, and how it might have looked when occupied by family. For the many visitors who come to see it, especially at Christmastime, it is a thing of wonder and joy. For Lolli, it is the source of nightmares. She knows that as a baby she screamed if taken into the house, and she remembers only too vividly her last visit when the ‘thing’ swooped down her and almost crushed her. Now Elsie needs her help, and Lolli must overcome her fears and panic, control her mind and bring all her energies to bear to solve the ages-old dark secret of the house.

Readers will absolutely love the slow reveal of clues and facts that help us to follow Lolli’s thoughts, and her reflections on her own life and her connections to both people and the world. As with Allison’s other books, the creepiness is at exactly the right pitch – enough to scare a young reader deliciously but not leave them traumatised. Parallel to the exquisite ghost story, is a warm and wondrous take on family, and what it means to each of us, whatever our circumstances.

For those who know my own, I read this paragraph and got very teary – as the seventh anniversary of my girl’s passing was last week, and The Kid’s 17th birthday is this week – and for this one passage I truly thank Allison for her words which are so applicable in our context.

“Your mother was a good person, [Lolli]. And don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. All she’d want for you in this life is for you to be a good person too. That you are always brave enough to be your best self. That you strive to do the right thing. The good thing. The loving thing. The helpful thing. The kind thing. That’s exactly what your mother would have done her whole life long if the world hadn’t broken her first.”

I was interested to read Allison’s notes at the back of the book and learn of the inspiration for the house in her story. You can read more about Dennis Severs’ House and understand the fascination for so many. For me this is exactly what ‘museums’ should be like – they should be living things as much as possible. [I don’t want to see a discarded object with a card tag attached to it, lying pointlessly on a shelf. I would much rather see it in its ‘actual’ setting! Canterbury Museum in NZ remains firmly in my memory after visiting when I was about 13 or so for the amazing Christchurch St collection and more.]

This is just one utterly fab read! – a little bit of history, a lot of creepiness, a bit of angst, a lot of love – all in all, a perfect package for any reader from around an astute 9 years up to 13 or so. I highly recommend it to you and I know I am looking forward to book talking it with my Year 7s before the holidays.

When This Bell Rings – Allison Rushby

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Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 9781760651947
Imprint: Walker Books Australia
Release Date: September 2, 2020
Australian RRP: $17.99
New Zealand RRP: $19.99

I have many fans of Allison’s books – The Mulberry Tree, The Turnkey and The Seven Keys – who have already been pouncing on this latest of the author’s mysteries. Once again the narrative takes the reader into an almost recognisable parallel world when young Tamsin offers her literary hero Edie St Clair her help in finishing the final of her best-selling series London of the Bells.

Tamsin lives next door to the celebrated author and often watches her comings and goings while drawing, with passion, the colourful characters from the books. In fact, she has drawn them all so many times she feels she knows them intimately and would love to be counted among their number. To her great astonishment she discovers that Edie can literally draw herself into the books and when the author goes missing, Tamsin realises she must be actually caught up in the unfinished final book. Burning to prove herself a worthy friend, Tamsin draws herself into the narrative and finds herself right in the thick of all the dangerous action alongside her beloved character friends. She quickly realises that she is perhaps the only person in London who can help Edie find the perfect ending to the last book – one that will satisfy both readers and more importantly to Tamsin, her fictional friends. Young readers will be turning the pages eagerly to discover all the secrets, twists and turns and surprising developments as the plot unravels.

Many of you will have already added this new title to your collection but in case you haven’t it’s a great addition to your 2021 orders list for readers, both boys and girls, from around ten years upwards. I highly recommend it for your lovers of strange mysteries.

The Seven Keys – Allison Rushby

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1552612600603

Walker Books Australia

July 2019

ISBN: 9781760650797
Australian RRP: $16.99
New Zealand RRP: $18.99

 

I absolutely loved my first introduction to Flossie Birdwhistle in The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery and was so excited to read her next adventure, though I’ve had to wait a while. Let me say right now, it was worth the wait. Allison Rushby has once again transported us not only in time but also dimension as we enter the twilight world where Flossie has such a huge responsibility.

It’s now seven years or so after the war in which Flossie played such an important role. The help she had from her nemesis Hugo Howsham, who was a temporary ally, has almost been forgotten. Indeed, now it seems far away when Hugo manoeuvres himself into a position of power by acquiring three of the cemetery keys, his own and two more. He’s not just after Flossie’s key but is determined to master all seven for the seven cemeteries in the ring around London.

Flossie feels overwhelmed and has little idea how she can possibly outsmart and outplay Hugo particularly when the rest of the turnkeys seem to be feeling very resentful of her ineptitude over the key dilemma and the revelation of her secret association with Hugo in the past.

But this determined guardian of her departed is not alone. Her reunion with her much-loved maid Daisy laid to rest in another graveyard, the support of her older sisters who now rest in her care, her Advisor Hazel and eventually the rallying of the other Turnkeys enable her to thwart the despotic Hugo’s plans, at least for the time being, and further to ensure the safety of her mother, her only living relative.

These are just the most marvellously imaginative narratives filled with historical and geographical information about the London of the past and its society.  There has not been one reader in my library to whom I have pressed the first book upon who has not come back thoroughly hooked and wanting more. I am well pleased I will be able to recommend this second as highly.

Certainly we will now be waiting for the further adventures of Flossie who no doubt will need to once again engage all her skills and the combined talents of her twilight friends to block any dangers to her resting charges.

Simply splendid for readers from around ten years upwards.