Flame-haired Charity Delafield has grown up in a vast, isolated house - most of which she is forbidden to explore - with her fiercely strict father. With only her kindly nurse, Rose, and her cat Mr Tompkins for company, she knows very little of the outside world - or of her own family's shadowy past. What she does know is that she is NEVER to go outside unsupervised. And she is NEVER to over-excite herself, because of the mysterious 'condition' that she has been told she suffers from.
But Charity has a secret. All her life, she has had the same strange dream - a dream of a dark corridor, hidden somewhere in the house. Then, one day, Charity stumbles across the corridor. It leads to a door . . . and suddenly she realises things are not quite what they seem. (From Goodreads.Com)
The Haunting Of Charity Delafield is one of those books that once you open the first page, will transport you into another world completely and keep you hooked until the very last page. Reading it was an absolute pleasure.
The book is set in Victorian times, which as I've mentioned once or twice before is my most favourite time of all to read about and Ian Beck captures it beautifully. All the ingredients of a delicious Gothic tale are here: a huge, intimidating mansion, family secrets and loyal servants. Everything about this book screams children's classic and it reminded me of books like The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgeson Burnett and The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, my two favourite books from childhood and the ones I credit my love of books to. Like those books, I can see the Haunting Of Charity Delafield also inspiring a love of reading and it's certainly a book you'd want to read over and over again.
It also has a magical, fairy tale element which is revealed towards the end of the book and I admit I wasn't actually expecting. it's beautifully written and imaginative though and I absolutely loved it. At only 200 pages long it's perfect for confident readers of age ten upwards and I know if I'd read this at that age I would have been spellbound by it. This is certainly a book I'll be keeping for my daughter to enjoy in a few years time.
My copy was a proof, but the hardback is truly a thing of beauty with it's gold tipped pages and stunning illustrations, it makes the perfect gift. A book for children to inspire a love of reading, and adults to enjoy a nostalgic journey of their own childhood books, this is one book that should be making it into Christmas stockings this year.
Published by Random House Children's Books 2011
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review
I was lucky enough to interview Ian Beck about The Haunting Of Charity Delafield earlier this year and you can read it HERE