CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 18. . . . January 12, 2017
Matt and Sophie are reluctant to leave their home in thriving and hectic Toronto to live in a little suburb outside the metropolis. They are sure it will be boring, and they can’t imagine what they will do for fun. They are moving because their mother has taken a different job. Their father, an artist, can work anywhere, including this new house in Courtice. The area is so rural that there is a farmhouse complete with a horse right next door to Matt and Sophie’s new house.
Matt notices strange things about the horse right away. It doesn’t seem to eat. Also, when it snows, the horse doesn’t leave hoof prints in the paddock. Matt and Sophie find out from their new friends Chris and Nick, who are brothers, that there really isn’t a horse. They are seeing a ghost. The horse died many years ago in a rather violent manner. Sophie becomes fascinated with the ghost horse, and one night she wanders out of the house and walks over to interact with the horse. This is when the trouble begins. Sophie disappears, and when Matt goes to investigate, he meets two more ghosts – previous owners of the farmhouse – Ernest and Hazel. Two other ghosts appear in the story later on – two brothers who died because of the horse.
Told in the first person from Matt’s perspective, The House Next Door is a typical ghost/scary story for young readers. The author uses many descriptive words which help the readers visualize, and this helps make the story spooky. The characters are interesting, and they keep the plot moving along, often by the dialogue. The author has done a good job of making readers guess what will happen next by introducing various ghost characters later in the story. Full of twists and turns and scary stuff, The House Next Door is a great read for young readers who love ghost stories.
Mary Harelkin Bishop is the author of the “Tunnels of Moose Jaw Adventure” series published by Coteau. She has also published a biography about Canadian Paralympic Champion Colette Bourgonje, entitled Moving Forward and a picture book version called Gina’s Wheels. Her latest book, Mistasini^y: Buffalo Rubbing Stone (2016) deals with the relationship between a Cree boy and a boy of European descent as they get to know one another and realize the land is important to both of them. Currently she is an Instructional Consultant for Saskatoon Public Schools.