When Ellie and her family move into Inchwood Manor, Ellie quickly discovers strange things are happening. Who is the mysterious boy at the window? What secrets lie within the abandoned nursery? Who is the woman who haunts Ellie's dreams and why has she returned to the Manor, after more than a century?
Ellie finds herself entangled in a Victorian mystery of ghosts and tunnels and secret documents and discovers that life all those years ago isn't so different from the world she knows today...
. . .
'This was such a charming read! I read this in one sitting whilst it was raining and it was perfect for the atmosphere of the book...
It's got a lovely level of mischief between the two main characters, Ellie and Edward, in a way that'll keep readers, especially young readers, engaged throughout the plot. They were such adorable characters that continued to grow and develop throughout the story, and used their intelligence in order to get out of the situations they found themselves in. I especially enjoyed Edward, the ghost of the house. The rest of the cast were also brilliant!
... I appreciate the various themes that are touched on throughout this story, and I can really see this becoming a valuable story in a kid's life. I will be recommending this to some close friends with young siblings as I think this is great for its target audience. I highly encourage you to pick it up if you have a kid at home or if you just like reading middle grade.'
'I enjoyed reading this book myself, even though I bought it for my 11 year old child. A great atmospheric ghost story that older kids will enjoy. Looking forward to trying book 2.'
- Kate R, troubador.co.uk book reviewer.
'This story was so much more than just a creepy little ghost boy and an old house, which I really appreciated.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is the way Ellie and Edward's friendship grows throughout the story; and how, despite the trouble that Edward gets Ellie into, she continues to fight to try help her friend. They are both endearing characters and I really wanted the two of them to succeed and find happy endings.'
- Tori Talks Books
'I really enjoyed the different ways that Ellie discovered her answers, and they all tie up very neatly, with no loose ends. The way the story ends is rather satisfying to read, and I am glad that they got their happy endings.
I read Childish Spirits in one evening, and it is really great if you want a quick but enjoyable read to pass the time. I also think that children would really enjoy this story.'
- Danni Jordan, book blogger.
'Childish Spirits is a wonderfully atmospheric story for children, although this adult enjoyed it very much too! Vivid characters carry the reader through the story of Ellie who moves to Inchwood Manor with her mum and brother. The impish ghost of a child soon makes his presence known to Ellie and adventures follow. The story has a satisfying ending and I believe there are more stories in this series.
Overall a fantastic story for children!'
- Karen Bryony Rose, writer and freelance journalist
'This heartwarming tale is the perfect Christmas read with an element of mystery and a haunting suspense that gets interesting by the minute, replete with picturesque descriptions & well-ethched, compelling characters. The sinister governess, the charming spirit, an endearing father-daughter relationship, families breaking up, the sinking feeling first-hand through the eyes of little Ellie, this book has it all.
The cipher laden conclusion in the Victorian house was brilliant, entwined in an old worldly charm, like the Enid Blyton books of yore.Absolutely loved it and look forward to 'The Spirit of London'. Thanks for reviving my Childish spirit.'
- Catherine Habbie, author
'I liked the unique setting combining the past and present day. I loved the mystical vibe! [Inchwood Manor] was super creepy, mysterious, and fascinating! I also loved [the] cool idea of the spirit world and I found their magic powers to be fascinating. I enjoyed how the spirit world and magic was blended into the real world so that readers weren't always sure if what was happening was real or not!
It was also really funny when Ellie's family saw her talking and interacting with a spirit/ghost they couldn't see! That also raises the question of why Ellie can see the spirits in the first place - but hopefully that will be answered in the next books! I also enjoyed the mystery surrounding Edward's family history...
I highly recommend this book! I cannot wait to read the next book in this series, The Spirit of London!'
- Pages for Thoughts
'This book was a really lovely read, and I consumed it in a single evening, without stopping!
... Childish Spirits is formed with witty, captivating writing – and would be great for a large age range of children. I love the melding of the historical with modern, and this book combined the two beautifully, with a lovely balance between ghosts of the past and the events of the present for the main characters. I enjoyed all of the characters, as well as their story arcs and the general setting – a big old house with beautiful grounds. There was a clever plot twist that I did NOT see coming at all, and the story kept me hooked throughout.
... It is a ghost story – but it's not terrifying or horrible. It sends the perfect little shiver down one's spine...
... This book hooked me and kept me reading until the last page had turned, with clever writing and witty words. It ended with a slight cliffhanger – and I hope to read more books from this series in the future!
- The Treasure Within Blog
'Ellie's quest to help save Edward from falling into the clutches of Miss McKendrick leads to dangers and suspense that will have young readers on the edge of their seats. This story is fast-paced and exciting, with just enough of the fear factor to make it thrilling without being over-the-top scary. At just under 150 pages, it's not too long either; a manageable size even for more reluctant readers. The first in a series, readers can enjoy continuing to follow Ellie and Edward's story as it moves through the series.'
- Nikki Young, writer, copywriter and author.
'Wow – Childish Spirits certainly had it all: fantasy, historical fiction, fiction, young adult, spirits, suspense, friendship, and plot twists. I was surprised at how much content was packed into such a short book. Childish Spirits was not a very long read – only 119 pages – but it had as much plot content as most long novels have... I thought it was so well written that the age range could be from 8 to 80...
The plot was easy to read and follow and the author's dialogue was very well written... The friendship between Ellie and Edward was very humorous and intriguing, but also very unique. I thought Rob Keeley did an awesome job balancing the human/ghost friendship...
The author described each and every scene expertly and made me feel like I was in the story the whole time. I could picture each scene in my mind and could picture it almost as [well] as [a] movie.
I enjoyed each plot and twist in the story, and it definitely kept me guessing the whole time, and attached to the book...
I would definitely recommend this book to all audiences. Even if you are someone like me, who does not typically like "ghostly" or fantasy stories, I suggest you try this book – you will probably be surprised!
"Childish Spirits has all the elements of a classic ghost story... but it also has a very modern setting that readers will feel at home with [and] it's a breeze to read. Simply written with an accessible vocabulary but never simplistic, and there are plenty of jokes to balance out the scary parts. Recommended. School librarians: this good-hearted novel would make a great addition to your shelves. I'm already looking forward to book two!"
"Entertaining, suspenseful ghost story for kids."
"...suspense is subtly built up. A particular strength is the book's use of speech, which adds depth and character, and there are also some great twists."
"It is written with a target audience of eight to twelve year olds, it is still a great read for adults, too. The language is highly appropriate to readers of that age, the daring escapades will appeal to them and I know many children of this age will love escaping into this story. With Ellie as the main female character and Edward as the main male one, this story is likely to appeal to both genders and could easily be used in classes to inspire, motivate and encourage children to enjoy reading. It has well developed characters, a fast pace and is a great introductory novel in this superb series, complete with plenty of danger to keep readers reading, wanting to know what happens next. I have no hesitation in highly recommending this to children and adults alike – and for teachers to utilise with their pupils."
Splashes Into Books
'A good introduction to ghost stories for upper primary age children.'
The School Librarian
'The language used in this story is quite accessible for younger readers which is brilliant. There's plenty of action, adventure and excitement which will make this book appeal to both young girls and boys alike... The book also represented a dysfunctional family well with the parents still going through the process of divorce and the conflict Ellie feels directly as a result of this. There are fabulous links to the Victorian era throughout the story and I thoroughly enjoyed the historical elements of the story which were woven in throughout...
If you or your child enjoys adventure, scares and thrills then this will be the book for you!'
Anna (BooksandBookends), via Goodreads
'Childish Spirits is a wonderful, exciting story about how friendship can be found in the most unusual circumstances... I found myself engrossed in the story, which actually surprised me, seeing as it is a book for children... The book has a natural flow to it and you can't help but root for Ellie and Edward, and keep your fingers crossed that everything will come good in the end. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, and see what adventures Rob Keeley has in store...'
'[O]nce I started, I couldn't put it down. I read it in 4 hours and my eyes were glued to every page...
The mystery... leaves you on the edge of your seat and we share Ellie's confusion at events that unfold. The darkness continues and grows until the climactic point when the truth is revealed!
... this was very enjoyable and I will be keeping this in mind when I choose next year's class novel! I would recommend it to any primary teacher - children love ghosts!'
Crowvus Book Blog
'To start off with I must say this one thing: please don't read it at night!! I kept jumping at every shadow in my room. This book reads a bit like an Edgar Allan Poe novel, dark and twisted with elements of spooky secrets and vengeful spirits!! I won't be going into detail but it's destined to be another classic!! It has everything right: plot, characters and eerie setting.'
- Miss Mahee's Library of Reads, New Zealand
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Reviews of the audiobook edition
'As read by Sally Millest, it's doubly enjoyable... [She] reads with beautiful flow and expression. Animated by Millest's lively yet sensitive voice, the characters are vibrant and vivid, each with a unique, strong personality...
Not only is it well read--it's perfectly paced. The story is a flawless blend of suspense, mystery, creepiness, charm, and character development...
Childish Spirits is the kind of MG [middle-grade] ghost book I wish every MG ghost book was like... It's also a wonderful October read... Parts of it made me shiver, parts made me catch my breath, and the end left me smiling.'
- The Wood Between the Worlds blog
'Childish Spirits is the first book in a series and I really enjoyed listening to this ghost story. It had the right amount of spooky atmosphere, dangerous antagonists and heartwarming moments...
You can meet Edward, the little boy, with [Ellie] and be surprised by all the twists and turns. Even though this was written with a younger audience in mind, I could really enjoy it too. Ellie and Edward are great together, there were funny moments and really touching one[s] as well and the ending was absolutely perfect!
The characters are well-developed for such a short book and it really surprised me a few times. The pace was very good and keeps you glued to the page (or your headphones??) wondering what might happen next in this ghostly mystery.
The writing is appropriate for the target age range but can certainly be enjoyed by a wide range of readers, it's witty and easily understandable.
Another thing I liked was how easily the historical merged with the present time. Edward being from the Victorian era and his disdain for some more modern inventions, conventions or phrases. It also keeps a good balance between the past and the present and sets up new adventures in the sequels.
I, for one, will continue this series and I really recommend you check them out if you like middle grade and/or are in need of more ghosts to grace your TBR (as was I).'
- Papertea & Bookflowers blog
'Sally Millest's voice certainly does catch the attention and brilliantly evokes the creepy feels! Check it out.'
- The Cozy Pages.
'I loved how brilliant it was to hear it all brought to life, and loved the drama, mystery and humour throughout! ... Ellie has this boundless enthusiasm that is infectious! She's willing to throw herself into solving the mysteries of the Manor as well as helping Edward and it's also a great way to learn about the differences between growing up now, and how Edward grew up in the Victorian years. There are some scary moments alongside quite emotional times when Edward is remembering his family and this was all brilliantly portrayed in the audio version too! It's a great mix for readers (and listeners!) of all ages!'
- Karen Mace, blogger
'This was a great listen... I really did enjoy following Ellie and her escapades with the mysterious boy at the window and the woman haunting her dreams... I didn't want to stop listening...I loved the way the story went with the twists and turns along the way making me smile and nod in approval...The narration is by Sally Millest... who reads the story expertly. I especially like her portrayal of the ghosts.
I definitely recommend this if you enjoy children's ghost stories and I can't wait to read or listen to the other books in the series.'
- Secret Library Book Blog
'This is the first book of Rob's I have listened to and I must say it was a great listen... I really liked how the story was written and it kept me hooked throughout as I wasn't sure who they could trust and what would happen at the end.'
- Simon, Audible Reviewer
'[T]he narrator's voice was perfect for this ghost story. Her voice brought the words to life, she really did a fantastic job. It also works well as an audiobook because it's short and the writing is great!...
I loved the descriptions in the story about the large house and what Ellie sees. My son sat with me for a bit while I listened to the story and he told me it sounded spooky...
Ellie starts to experience strange occurrences in the manor and soon enough we meet a ghost named Edward who is ten years old. He's mischievous and kind of bratty. We find out his back story and in a way, Ellie and Edward become friends or should I say allies? Because there is something else at work here at Inchwood Manor and Ellie tries to find out what's really going on.
I enjoyed the mystery and action in the story. I thought Charlie, Ellie's brother was a pretty funny character and typical of an older brother picking on his younger sibling. Edward, the ghost, also grew on me and Ellie was so patient with him, bless her heart for wanting to help him since at times he was such a terror.
I'm sure it would have been a quick read if I had the book because the writing is good and there was always something happening that moved the story forward and kept me interested. Also it's not scary at all. My daughter, who is two years old, laughed out loud when Charlie's character would say "Boo!". Instead of a scary ghost story, it was [a] tale of a broken heart, a lonely ghost and a girl trying to deal with moving into a strange house and her parents' divorce.
The audience for this book is middle grade readers, I believe, though I think it would be great for young adult and adults too. Overall, this audiobook was enjoyable to listen to and I think in ebook or physical book form would be a fun reading experience as well.'
- Starting Small Reads
Great story, really well written, interesting characters and well narrated. My kids will love it!
- Amazon Customer
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Childish Spirits reviewed by Glebe Primary School
Now available in audiobook, read by Sally Millest. Hear a sample here