The Ghosts (The Amazing Mr Blunden)

The Ghosts

Title: The Ghosts (The Amazing Mr Blunden)

Writer: Antonia Barber

Publishing House: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Date of Publication: January 1st 1969

Rating: 5 stars

‘’Perhaps the strangest thing about the old gentleman was his upright walking, unbothered by the freezing raindrops.’’

Every summer, I revisit favourite books of my childhood. Most of them are children’s mysteries or folk tales. This mystery by Antonia Barber is my first revisit for the summer of 2018, a childhood journey to the age of 11 as the date on the second page reads 11/8/1996. I always write dates and names in my books, I’m just weird…The Ghosts ( and I much prefer this title than The Amazing Mr. Blunden) is a book that never gets old for me. It is one of my very favourites, rich in atmosphere and characters. They just don’t write children’ s novels like this anymore…

The situation is rather difficult for the Allen family. Lucy, Jamie and their baby brother live with their mother in a small house in Camden Town. Their father has died and their resources are extremely limited. Until a strange elderly gentleman, whose appearance has sprung from a bygone era, knocks on their door with a Godsend offer they can’t refuse. However, the house they are now in charge of hides secrets. Shadows, voices in the air, cries for help. Two children of the past, victims of a terrible fate seek justice.

Barber takes the traditional story of the ghost that seeks justice and creates a beautifully dark mystery. The English setting, the landscape, the formidable house are traditional elements of the good old British Horror Fiction and here, they are present in all their glory. There is an ominous atmosphere, painted in grey hues, from the very first paragraph which describes the difference between the hurrying Londoners and Mr Blunden’s quiet walking. The children are exceptionally written characters. Lucy, Jamie, Sara and George are the perfects guides in this exciting, atmospheric story. I read this almost every year and not once have I thought that it is dated. To tell you the truth, I wish to God children’s stories were now written with the same innocence, care and vision of the writers of the past. Back then, children didn’t try to appear older than their years, childhood was exactly that. Our childhood. Dreamy and innocent. Now, most of the writers either make excessive use of technology of the worst kind or consider the children to be practically brainless. Not to mention the ‘’books’’ that are addressed to teenagers…

I have the Greek edition of The Ghosts (published with an extremely beautiful front cover) but if you find an edition in your language, do yourselves a favour and buy it. For you and your children. If you already have one sitting somewhere, unearth it and give it the love it deserves. Such books are extinct species nowadays…

‘’Sometimes ghosts are people coming back searching for help. They are people who weren’t strong enough or brave enough to meet a challenge. They come to ask for help, because they cannot rest, knowing that once they did much harm to others, wanting to make things right…’’

*The extracts are translated by me, taken from the 1992 Greek edition under the title Τα Φαντάσματα (Τhe Ghosts) *



  1. Vera says:

    Oh, such a great idea to revisit favorite childhood books during summer time. I may use this as an opportunity to do so as well! 🙂

    I haven’t read The Ghosts but it does sound something I would enjoy. I love character driven books sprinkled with a bit of mystery. I will look into it as books full of innocence are my thing. 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much, Vera! I definitely recommend this one, it’s quite a gem and a token of art that is slowly vanishing. Children’s books are quite mediocre nowadays.

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  2. Amalia, I had the exact same idea to revisit the childhood classics during the summer, I even made a list, can you believe that haha. 😀 I never heard of this book, but it sounds lovely, and you know I love ghosts, so I’ll try to find it in my local library. 🙂

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    1. Thank you so much, dearest!! It seems that all of my most beloved children’s books contain at least a tiny ghost😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hehe, then those are the right books. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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