Rose and the Silver Ghost by Holly Webb

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Rose and the Silver Ghost by Holly Webb

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Orphan Rose loves her new life as both a housemaid and a magical apprentice, but she still longs to solve the mystery which surrounds her parents. A ghost tries to help, but only succeeds in leading Rose and her companions into terrible danger.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: February 2011
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 978-1408304501

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This is the fourth volume in the Rose series, and its blend of magic, peril and excitement has proved a winning formula. Rose herself is a delightful character, combining the down-to-earth, practical qualities one would hope for in a housemaid with growing magical powers and a mysterious past. In this story, she discovers there may be a way to find out what happened to her mother a decade before, but her path is, as usual, fraught with danger and thrills.

One of the strongest qualities of this series is the depth of the characters. Rose herself grew up in an orphanage before coming to work as a maid at the house of Mr Fountain, who is an alchemist. She has little time for the rituals and expectations of high society, and is as much at ease, if not more, with Bill the boot-boy as with her fellow apprentice Freddie. She would far rather keep her tiny bedroom than move to a large and luxurious one, and worries the cook and maids will ignore her if she becomes too 'posh'. Bella, on the other hand, the spoilt and unruly daughter of Mr Fountain, is quite a different type. She has strong but untamed magical powers and throws tantrums so devastating that her screams make people's ears bleed. She is clearly attracted to the dark side and has to be reminded several times in this book of the right thing to do, but she is always penitent when she realises she has hurt her friends. Nonetheless, she is not a person one would want to meet as a fully-fledged magician, unless her family and friends succeed in teaching her self-control!

Mr Fountain, Bella's father, is absent for most of this book. Despite the dreadful injuries he suffered in Venice, in the previous volume Rose and the Magician's Mask, he is summoned urgently to court in his role as chief magician and advisor to the king. The threat of an imminent invasion in the on-going war with Talis looms over Rose's world, and even in the midst of their struggles with the evil Pike, the children are aware that their world may be about to change forever. The setting, which owes much to the Victorian London of Dickens, is vivid, rich and full of detail, and it makes for a gripping read.

Once again the rather cute picture of Rose and Gus, the magical cat, on the cover of this book is misleading. There is a real thread of darkness running through the series, with danger, captivity and even murder featuring prominently in this particular story. Gus may steal potted-shrimp sandwiches from the tea-table, and express in no uncertain terms his love for lobster, but he is nonetheless a sharp-tongued, powerful creature who accompanies and advises the young friends, and even rescues them from danger – if he is not distracted by a passing sardine. And towards the end of the book Rose is faced with a truly terrible decision for such a young girl: will she use her magic to save her country by helping to murder thousands of enemy soldiers?

There is no doubt that this book can be frightening. Readers who have a vivid imagination or a delicate disposition might prefer to read it with a parent, or wait until they are a little older than the suggested 9+. But for those who are willing or able to endure the occasional shiver of fear, Rose and the Silver Ghost will provide a thrilling, page-turning roller-coaster of a story.

Many thanks to Orchard Books for sending this spell-binding (!) story to Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Readers who enjoy this book will want to read the others in the series. Bookbag particularly enjoyed Rose and the Magician's Mask. And if they like feisty heroines in difficult situations, with a splash of magic thrown in, they'll love Neversuch House by Elliot Skell.

Buy Rose and the Silver Ghost by Holly Webb at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rose and the Silver Ghost by Holly Webb at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Rose and the Silver Ghost by Holly Webb at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Rose and the Silver Ghost by Holly Webb at Amazon.com.


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