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The Old Willis Place by Mary Downing Hahn

The Old Willis Place (2004)

by Mary Downing Hahn

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Okay, now I feel slightly guilty for giving it just one star. But honestly? I didn't like it.

Maybe it's just not the genre for me, but this book is supremely creepy. I was maybe eleven or twelve when I first read it, and while it didn't give me nightmares (I never get nightmares from books, ever), it did give me a hard time going to sleep for a while. I listened to this new CD I had just got every night (coincidentally, I hadn't planned that - it was my listening to music at bedtime stage), and then it got to the point that every time I heard a song from that album I started thinking about this creepy story. Pity, because it was a great album. Ah, well . . .

Anyway, you can read tons of recaps of this book in the other reviews, or on Amazon, whatever. What I'm going to tell you is no, this is not a "safe" thriller. People say this is the border, or for tweens, whatever. I say that I have read the Hunger Games, Harry Potter (not that that's very violent, I guess), and tons more I can't think of right now, but this book gave me the heeby-jeebies. More than physical violence, I think, mental or phsycological pain is the truly traumatizing stuff. I'm not a wimp by any means, but this book did make me stop more than almost any other. I'm fine with ghost stories, whatever. But the idea (slight spoiler) that someone could be murdered by mistake, and the other person not even care, was truly hard for me. It isn't really mentioned what it was like when they died, bu I can only imagine how horrible a long, slow death must be . . .

Ick, getting the shivers again. I'm sure if I'd read it as an older teen I probably wouldn't have been near as startled by it, but don't give this to your tweens. If they want a book by this author, give them [b:The Doll in the Garden|541521|The Doll in the Garden|Mary Downing Hahn|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1175642554s/541521.jpg|528879]. That's a taste of her writing in a reasonable helping. ( )
  Jaina_Rose | Mar 1, 2016 |
The dilapidated Victorian house is empty, yet full of secrets. The locals call it 'The Old Willis Place', and it seems as if the decaying mansion has been there for years. Diana and her little brother Georgie have been living in the woods behind the house for quite a while now - sometimes it honestly feels like forever - and in all that time, the children have seen many potential caretakers come and go.

According to a strict set of rules, Diana and Georgie aren't allowed to leave the property, or even show themselves to anyone. For many years, they've followed the rules and nothing has happened to them. Recently though, Diana has begun to feel tempted to test these mysterious rules - perhaps even break them entirely - all in the hopes of making a new friend.

When the new caretaker and his daughter, Lissa, come to live in the mansion, Diana sees her first chance to make friends. Lissa is about Diana's age, so Diana is absolutely certain that the girls would have a lot in common; if only Diana could introduce herself. However, Diana and Georgie will quickly discover that breaking the rules can have dire consequences...

Mareena had actually requested this book for herself, since she had read Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story, another book by Mary Downing Hahn - when she was about ten or eleven years old. I actually acquired this book almost as soon as it arrived in the mail - with Mareena's blessing - and had wanted to start reading it much earlier than I did. Apparently, my eagerness to start reading this particular book kept meeting up with the myriad other interesting books I already have on my TBR pile.

Anyway, I found this book to be thoroughly intriguing and I really enjoyed reading it. It certainly was a very suspenseful story; much more suspenseful than I was expecting from a children's book. The plot was very well-developed, and the story well-written. In my opinion, Ms Hahn's treatment of ghosts and haunting was unusual, and I really appreciated her rather unique perspective. I would give this book a solid A! ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Sep 7, 2015 |
  mrsforrest | Oct 31, 2014 |
WOW! What an amazing, well written story!

The author has some great imagery in the book; it's one of those books that I could close my eyes and picture it happening. I enjoyed how Downing created "two" points of view (Diana is the narrator, and Lissa's diary is occasionally thrown into the story). The characters are also well-developed and unique!

Now for the ending. Having been reading a lot of "cliffhangers" lately, I am happy to have a book with a happy, sweet ending that made my smile, while being realistic to the setting and plot of the story.

With carefully incorporated clues, the reader comes to the realization that the frightening old woman that haunts the Willis Place (Miss Lillian) is not the only ghost in the story... ( )
  ZoeSNicholson | Sep 16, 2013 |
Narrated by Diana and Georgie, this book is the story of their death and afterlife. When the new caretaker brings his daughter, Lissa, to the old Willis place, Diana is so desperate to have a friend that she begins breaking the rules. As she gets to know Lissa nd lets Lissa know more about her own life (both now and then) Diana and Georgie finally have a chance to change the way they've been for the past fifty years.

Dang! I was about halfway through and I thought it wasn't that scary...but it definitely has super creepy vibes during the second half. Good book for kids who like to be scared/disturbed by their reads. ( )
  agrudzien | Jan 4, 2013 |
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Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For Ann, Tom, and Jocelyn Ingham - who know the old Willis place far better than I ever will
First words
"They're coming, they're coming!"
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618897410, Paperback)

Diana and her little brother Georgie have been living in the woods behind the old Willis place, a decaying Victorian mansion, for what already seems like forever. They aren’t allowed to leave the property or show themselves to anyone. But when a new caretaker comes to live there with his young daughter, Lissa, Diana is tempted to break the mysterious rules they live by and reveal herself so she can finally have a friend. Somehow, Diana must get Lissa’s help if she and Georgie ever hope to release themselves from the secret that has bound them to the old Willis place for so long.
Mary Downing Hahn has written a chilling ghost story in the tradition of her most successful spine-tingling novels. The intriguing characters, frightening secrets, and plot twists will delight her many fans.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Tired of the rules that have bound them ever since "the bad thing happened," twelve-year-old Diana ignores her brother's warnings and befriends the daughter of the new caretaker, setting in motion events that lead to the release of the spirit of an evil, crazy woman who once ruled the old Willis place.… (more)

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Average: (3.85)
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