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Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish

Breathe: A Ghost Story

by Cliff McNish

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Breathe by Cliff McNish is a children’s story dealing with a young asthmatic boy, Jack, and his mother who move to an old farmhouse after the death of his father. Instead of peace and quiet, they find they are living in a haunted house. There are four children’s spirits and one of a woman who is called the Ghost Mother. It turns out that the woman spirit is keeping the others as prisoners, she feeds on their souls in order to keep herself strong.

The Ghost Mother has plans for both Jack and his mother, but Jack is a special boy with the ability to communicate with those from the Other World. He soon realizes that he must be the one to save not only himself and his mother but the other spirits as well

Obviously the target audience for this book is much younger than I and so what I mostly found silly might appeal to younger children. With the lack of depth to the plot and the ending that felt too convenient and contrived Breathe: A Ghost Story appears to be more focused on offering life lessons than serving up the chills that I was looking for. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Aug 15, 2016 |
I'm always on the lookout for a good ghost story--one full of atmosphere and creepyness, and that isn't stupid. Because well-written ghost stories are hard to find, Breathe: a Ghost Story was a pleasant surprise, especially since it's a novel written for children.

Jack and his mother Sarah arrive at an old farmhouse they've leased in the English countryside where they have come to grieve and regroup after the sudden death of Jack's father (side note: I guess because it's a kid's book we don't see Sarah's pain over the loss of her husband? Odd.) In the beginning of the book, Jack reminds me of the little boy in the movie the Sixth Sense because he sees dead people--well, ghosts, actually. And this farmhouse has five--four children who died at different points over a forty year time span, plus a woman from the Victorian era whose daughter died from consumption in the garden. At first the Ghost Mother (as they call her) seems nice, but you soon learn that she is a little on the obsessive crazy side, and terrorizes the other ghosts as a result. She soon begins to terrorize Jack and Sarah too.

There are a lot of things I liked about Breathe: a Ghost Story. First, although it is written for children, it read like a book for any age reader (trust me, this is a rare and wonderful thing). The story was unique from start to finish--I soon got to know Jack and stopped imagining him as Haley Joel Osment. There were several twists that I didn't expect, and it was never predictable. The ghosts weren't the creepiest, but the whole logic and worldbuilding around them was both solid and inventive. Also, Jack has severe asthma, and McNish incorporates that effectively into the story. Finally, the chapter headings had cool illustrations. Overall, this is a terrific book. ( )
1 vote Nickelini | Nov 1, 2013 |
Excitement, chills and the creeps is what you will experience while reading Breathe by Cliff McNish. A house that is run down, abandoned and haunted by four children and a ghost mother, gets 2 visitors. Sarah and her son, Jack, move into the house after Jacks father, William, died. They had no clue what they were getting themselves into. Jack hadn't known he had the power to see ghosts ( medium) until he moved there. Jack would tell Sarah the stories but she never believed him. He explained how the ghost mother would tell him not to interact with the four ghost children. Sarah would never under estimate Jack ever again. Her and the ghost mother had a every scary encountering with each other. Breathe was a terrific book. The plot was never boring I couldn't put the book down once I picked it up. Another good thing about the book was it focused on everyone's point of view. The transition transitions between chapters are good and not confusing. In some parts I would use more details but other than that I lived the book. I recommend this book to people who are looking for an easy read.
  br14aido | Oct 30, 2013 |
I read this book last spring, but it really stuck with me. It’s not a ghost story in the pop out at you sense. It’s more a creepy story that makes you feel very unsettled. The ghost mother made my skin crawl – especially with what she was doing to the ghost children. Many times I want to tell Jack to run - run away fast! I couldn’t stand the thought of the ghost mother touching Jack or being near him! I will admit the ending was a bit confusing to me. I had to reread it several times to make sure I understood it.

In a nutshell: great creepy story that made me shudder a few times.
  MrsBookOwl | Sep 14, 2013 |
It’s a really good book that makes you question you belief in ghosts and if the truly exist. It’s an amazing page turner that keeps you questioning.
  edspicer | May 19, 2013 |
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Lonely, invisible, and still wearing the clothes they had dies in: the ghosts of four children were in this house.
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When he and his mother move into an old farmhouse in the English countryside, asthmatic, twelve-year-old Jack discovers that he can communicate with the ghosts inhabiting the house and inadvertently establishes a relationship with a tormented, malevolent spirit that threatens to destroy both his mother and himself.… (more)

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