Ghost Knight ISBN: 9781444008234
Published by Orion Children's Books (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ), 2012
First off, this is a cracking ghost story! Full of 'real' ghosts and lots of humour along with the undoubted violence, it hums along with great pace. Jon Whitcroft has been deported (his own word) to school in Salisbury. His mother has a new boyfriend, and Jon and 'the Beard' (again Jon's term) do not get along. It must be admitted that Jon has been a tad spoiled by his mum and two sisters since his dad died when he was only four, but that doesn't make his anger at the Beard's taking over his family's life any less real. The Beard is a dentist, and it doesn't help things that sweets have been forbidden and he has had to eat more healthily. This doesn't explain Jon's treatment of the Beard, though. Pouring coke over his dentistry magazines and convincing his sister to put porridge in his shoes probably helped convince his mum that Jon must be banished to school. The Cathedral at Salisbury and the Cathedral school are portrayed with great love and attention, and while Jon is miserable in his early days there, he begins to find the place rather more exciting than he ever thought possible. Meeting Ella, a girl in his year, and her ghost-believing grandmother perk things up considerably, and the two children are soon caught up in a maelstrom of adventures that keep one reading page after page. The Beard is a continuous source of irritation to Jon, and when he turns out to be Ella's Uncle, he is horrified. However, when the Beard joins in the ghostly enterprises, cuts off his beard and becomes plain Matthew, things begin to change in their relationship. Whether they will ever be close is not the point. They will learn to accept each other as they are. Ella is a wonderful heroine, rather braver than Jon, but he comes up trumps as well. Ms Funke has provided wonderful black and white pictures to go with the story, and they are very atmospheric indeed. The history behind the story is real, and we are given a glossary at the back of the book to explain the people involved, ghosts all. This is a special, highly-enjoyable story.