Official synopsis from Firedrake Books: "Every house has a history. This House has a mystery. When the orphaned Munson kids move with their aunt to The House, Mindy Munson discovers strange creatures living there already. Ghosts. Dragons. Leprechauns. And a scary Thing lurking in the basement. Mindy’s older sister Susie is determined to find out where these creatures came from and why they’re living in the Munson’s house. With the help of the next-door neighbors and an old lady named Mrs. Wemberley, Susie, Mindy and their brothers unravel The House’s amazing secrets. And along the way, they discover some incredible secrets about themselves.”
I will say, this isn’t a book I would normally read. But I’m glad I did. As I went along the largely plot-less novel, it reminded me of something I had watched, but it took a moment to remember what it was. Then it hit me: My Neighbor Totoro. Like that famous and lovable film, this book is a celebration of being a kid. These vignettes, as the kids investigate the unnatural things in their home, perfectly capture the wonder and innocence of children:from being amazed at the view from atop a tree to being scared of spiders under the bed to wondering just how old their old lady babysitter is. Bennett had a knack for kids and she perfectly captured their dialogue and nuances, I could hear kids talking like this.
While the book is almost a series of vignettes, there is a through line, the continuing problem of Susie trying to come with terms about her parents’s death. It doesn’t overshadow the story nor make it dark, but I liked that the thread was continually picked up and tied into the main narrative. I feel the book would have been lessened without having it in there, as characters in most stories need to grow, as these kids do.
This is a quick read for adults but will be quite enjoyable for younger readers, or a great bedtime story. All in all, a magical book.