'The House on Hoarder Hill' at first glance looks like your standard haunted house fare but there is a lot more to this. Scary, fun, humourous, wacky - it ticks all the boxes for an MG mystery-adventure.
When Hedy and Spencer stay with their grandfather before Christmas, they don't expect to receive strange messages from their grandma in dust and through fridge-magnets. Their grandma, Rose, disappeared in peculiar circumstances decades ago, so why are the children seemingly being contacted beyond the grave? And will the cluttered and whimsical house on Hoarder Hill spill its secrets to help, even if help comes in the shape of a talking stag head and a talking bear rug?
The premise of this book is excellent and from the very first pages it is easy to be swept up in the mystery and the magic. Originally, the story of Hedy and Spencer and their missing grandma was intended for TV, until Kelly Ngai and Mikki Lish were encouraged to write it as a book to delve deeper. Visually, the book dazzles with its inventive, sometimes wacky, sometimes scary imagery. While Hedy and Spencer are great, it is the cast of spooky and weird characters which makes this lots of fun. The talking stag-head and bear-rug are hilarious and welcome companions for our central heroes.
There are many truly imaginative set-pieces, which feel as though they were conceived as episodes in their own right, while tying to the overall story-arc. I loved the adventure into a painting! At times, though, the episodic nature of the plot begins to bulge like the walls of the house itself - there are lots and lots of brilliant ideas here, which for TV, would have been spread across the breadth of a series. But, in saying that, Ngai and Lish do a great job of tying all the imaginative threads into a rewarding end, in a way that a Studio Ghibli film might do with surprise and delight.
This is a super book for children who love their books bursting with imagination, creepiness and humour!