Gr 3-7-Cast out when their spooky castle gets modernized into a holiday camp, Humphrey and his ghost family search for a new home. They meet a friendly schoolboy named Rick who decides they should start a "ghost sanctuary," since human expansion has ruined so many ghoulish spots in England. When the sanctuary turns out to be a trap meant to exorcise all of the ghosts, Rick and Humphrey must save the day. Ibbotson's sense of humor is in fine form, especially in her detailed descriptions of the various ghostly characters. Headless Aunt Hortensia and Humphrey's brother, George the Screaming Skull, are just two of the repulsive, yet endearing figures. There's a bizarre warmth of feeling between humans and ghosts, as when Rick agrees to let a sickly young vampire bat suck a bit of his blood in a gross, but weirdly tender scene. The humans are mostly exaggerated caricatures, which works fine for most of them, including the evil exorcist, who neatly ends up as a ghost in need of sanctuary himself. However, Rick and his human friends who help are less engaging than other Ibbotson protagonists. Plot contrivances that keep the story moving, including a convenient local witch coven and a surprisingly understanding Prime Minister, fit with the lighthearted tone, but also prevent the story from becoming truly involving. The book still has considerable appeal, though, because of the deliciously consistent macabre humor and the entertaining ensemble of ghosts.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Fans of Dial-A-Ghost will eagerly welcome the new flock of floating phantoms in The Great Ghost Rescue, Eva Ibbotson's wry companion novel, illus. by Kevin Hawkes. The ghosts' housing shortage continues, and human hero Rick wants the British government to do something about it. But even after the ghosts are settled, they're greeted by some unwelcome visitors: the exorcists (could there be another sequel in the works?). (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.