I really liked the first half and, to a lesser extent, the latter half.
The British overload threatens to make me somehow
acquire enough funds to get me on a planeship to England. As if the accents there weren't enough.
Ibbotson's writing is, and I don't say this much at all, a joy to read. It's so clean and precise and lovely and just wonderful without being childish. The lyricism flows and weaves, drawing you into the world that she has created. You feel like you are standing in sprawling Clawstone, with its damp walls, poor little gift shop, white cattle, and spectral ghosts.
Some of her characters are never given as much backstory as you might like, and yet you feel like you know them.
The ghosts do have rather fun personalities and I do so wish we could have seen more of that.
One of my favorite scenes in in which you learn of Mrs. Lee-Perry in the village whose friends have all passed away, remaining ghosts. But they continue to hold Thursday night tea and music parties.
There was something so cute about that scene.
My only qualm was that there was entirely too much animal love. The vibe I got was that the cattle were the most important thing there. NO. No animal is that important. And the sentiment that animals should be killed ONLY in self-defense is something that I don't agree with.
Clearly, I don't agree with animal cruelty but that doesn't mean I think that we should never eat animals. Life without meat = not worth living.
But that wasn't enough to really diminish my enjoyment of the book.
I do think that this book might be too gruesome (some of the ghosts and their stories) or mature in underlying themes (Mrs. Trenbellow's marital issues and Mr. Trenbellow urging her to constantly have plastic surgery) for some children.
Overall, a cute book with great writing.