Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Beasts of Clawstone Castle

The Beasts of Clawstone Castle

Kevin Hawkes
For ages 9 to 12
Penguin, 2007   ISBN: 978-0142409312

Madlyn and Rollo are not too pleased when their parents tell them that they are going to have to go to live with their Great Aunt Emily and their Great Uncle George for three months. Once the children get to their Aunt Emily and Uncle George?s home, Clawstone Castle, they cannot help being intrigued by the place. The children discover that their elderly relatives, who are kind people, are very badly off financially and are desperately trying to make money by opening up their house to visitors. They need the money not for themselves or for the house but because they have a fabulous herd of wild white cattle on their land. The animals are unique and they are also very expensive to take care of.

Unfortunately Clawstone Castle is not really worth seeing and it therefore attracts very few visitors. It is, quite frankly, not very interesting. They are going to need to come up with something to make the place more attractive.

So the children ask Cousin Howard - who just happens to be dead - if he can ask around and find them some fellow ghosts to haunt the castle. This Cousin Howard does and soon Clawstone Castle is doing very well with no less then five horrifying specters to terrify the visitors. All goes well until something truly terrible happens. Some government men come to the castle and tell Uncle George that the cattle are sick and need to be destroyed.

It seems as if everything is over and Uncle George and Rollo in particular are inconsolable. And then one of the ghosts, an Indian lady who had a particular rapport with the herd, figures out that they are not dead after all ? they were stolen.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and to bring the herd of cattle back to Clawstone Castle were they belong, Madlyn and Rollo and their ghostly friends set off on a dangerous quest which could very well have an unfortunate end.

In this wonderfully entertaining, often amusing, and thoroughly delightful tale, Eva Ibbotson once again tells a story which keeps her readers engaged from the first page to the last. Her ghosts are deliciously likeable even if they are dripping blood and have rats in their chests. Best of all the villains, and they are truly villainous villains, get just what they deserve.