The Hunt for the Seventh
by Christine Morton-Shaw
Jim’s family moves into the elegant Minerva Estate after his father is hired as the head gardener. The lord of the manor, Minerva himself, hates children and warns Jim and his sister, Sally that if he sees them snooping around his property their father will lose his job. Of course, if you tell a boy not to do something, what do you think happens?
As Jim explores the grounds he runs into a boy he nicknames Einstein. Einstein informs Jim that there are six other children on the grounds, and Jim is eager to meet them until he realizes the horrible truth: the other children are ghosts, the victims of a curse upon the manor. Every thirty years, it seems, a child dies on the Summer Solstice. As he continues his explorations and deciphers cryptic clues, Jim realizes he must find the seventh child fated to die – as mentioned in the curse – to prevent another tragic death and a terrible fate for the residents of a nearby village.
The Hunt for the Seventh was excellent, a delightfully creepy mystery. Set in a sprawling English estate, the story has a wonderful blend of ancient traditions, pagan rites, idyllic countryside and adventure for young Jim. As Jim’s the narrator, there’s an element of uncertainty from the beginning: it’s revealed that his mother has died recently, and throughout the book the reader is left wondering if the ghosts are even real. Is Jim just imagining them as a coping mechanism for his mother’s death? The pitiable children who were killed by the curse each have their own story to tell, but ultimately they remain shades, mere wisps of the past. A huge surprise twist at the end of the book took me completely off guard, and really helped make this book a great pre-Halloween read for kids in elementary/early middle school. I found it great fun, and the perfect book to open up my October reviews.
If you would like to read more about this book, order it or add it to your wishlist, click here.