Reviews for Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story

by Mary Downing Hahn

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Gr. 5-6. A ghost story extraordinaire is one way to bring on the chills and tingles of Halloween. Another choice, more closely tied to the holiday, is Ray Bradbury's Halloween Tree, where some children travel through time to learn the origins of the festivities.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Gr. 5-7. Molly and Michael dislike their new stepsister but realize they must try to save her when a ghost beckons the child to certain doom.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

An unusually scary, well-crafted ghost fantasy. Twelve-year-old Molly, 10-year-old brother Michael, and their artist mother, Jean, move into an isolated renovated country-church with Jean's new husband, Dave, and his disturbed seven-year-old daughter, Heather, whose mother died four years earlier in a fire that almost claimed Heather, too. There is a graveyard on the property; in a twinkling, Heather is possessed by the ghost of Helen, a child who, with her mother and stepfather, died in a fire in 1880. Molly decides to save Heather: Helen is trying to lure her into the pond where two other children have drowned. Then Molly discovers Heather's secret--she accidentally set the fire that killed her mother--and gets her to tell Dave. Heather's health is thereby restored, and the stepfamily is healed, but not before the malevolent Helen does some damage. Helen's ghost finds peace only when her mother materializes and forgives her; Helen, too, had set a fatal fire. Exciting for children comfortable with the genre, but the ghost activity is serious and chilling, involving a sensitive, intelligent heroine who believes in ghosts and wonders about death and what happens after it. Copyright ŠKirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Gr. 5-7. A ghost story par excellence in which a difficult seven-year-old is drawn into a frightening relationship with the ghost of a dead child.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Gr. 5-7. A ghost story par excellence in which a difficult seven-year-old is drawn into a frightening relationship with the ghost of a dead child. (S 1 86)


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 4-7 Ghost story fans have a spooky treat in store with Hahn's eerie new novel. Molly, the 12-year-old narrator, and her brother Michael dislike their bratty 5-year-old stepsister Heather and resent the family move to an isolated converted church in the country. The adjourning graveyard frightens Molly, but Heather seems drawn to it. Molly discovers that the ghost of a child (Helen) who died in a fire a century ago wants to lure Heather to her doom. Molly determines to save her stepsister. In so doing, she learns that Heather's strange behavior stems from her feelings of guilt at having accidentally caused her mother's death by playing near a stove and starting a fire. Eventually, Molly wrests Heather from Helen's arms as the ghost attempts to drown them. The girls discover the skeletons of Helen's parents, and their burial finally puts to rest Helen's spirit. This is a powerful, convincing, and frightening tale. The details of everyday life quickly give way to terror. The pace never slackens. Characterization is strong, and descriptive passages set a mood of suspense. There should be a heavy demand from readers who are not ``faint at heart.'' Judy Greenfield, Rye Free Reading Room, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 4-7-Mary Downing Hahn's haunting tale (Clarion, 1986) is the story of 12-year-old Molly, her 10-year-old brother Michael, and stepsister Heather, a 5-year-old brat. Molly and her family move to the country to live in a converted church in the middle of nowhere. Their home comes with its own graveyard (complete with a grave the caretaker has never noticed before) as well as an old burned-down husk of a house. Even worse, tales and sightings of unexplained beings have been told behind closed doors for years by the residents. Helen, a sinister ghost, lures Heather from her family with claims of eternal friendship and happiness, and it's up to Heather to rescue her. Ellen Grafton's voicing of Molly and the other characters is spot-on. This eerie, sinister, powerful tale will entrance listeners.- Amy Olson, formerly Lexington Public Library, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Gr. 5-7. Hahn gives readers a ghost story par excellence. Molly and Michael's newly blended family isn't working very well. Their seven-year-old stepsister, Heather, hates sharing her father, but he, as well as Molly and Michael's mother, keeps reminding them to be nice to the odd child. Heather's mother died in a mysterious fire when the girl was three, and she has never really gotten over it. Things take a turn for the worse when the family moves to a renovated church far out in the country. Heather's lying, unpleasantness, and attempts at dissension reach new heights. Then, she finds a tomb in the church graveyard with her initials H.E.H. on it. Before long Heather is drawn into a frightening relationship with Helen, the ghost of a dead child whose mother also died in a fire. Hahn builds her plot in the best horror story tradition. Her vivid descriptions add to the creepiness, and more than once readers may find themselves putting down the book and looking over their shoulders; the malevolence is that palpable. Intertwined with the ghost story is the question of Molly's moral imperative to save a child she truly dislikes. Though the emotional turnaround may be a bit quick for some, this still scores as a first-rate thriller. IC. Ghosts Fiction / Stepchildren Fiction [CIP] 86-2648

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