From Publishers Weekly
Before he broke onto the adult bestseller lists with his irreverent interpretations of the Cinderella story (Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister) and the Wizard of Oz (Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West), Maguire wrote children's books with titles like Six Haunted Hairdos, Seven Spiders Spinning and Four Stupid Cupids. His latest is a virtual literary paella of adult and children's fantasies: Jack the Ripper, A Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Exorcist even a wafting glimpse of Dracula. The result is a deftly written, compulsively readable modern-day ghost story that easily elicits suspension of disbelief. American writer Winifred Rudge, whose mass market book about astrology has been far more successful than her fiction, is in London to research a novel linking Jack the Ripper to the house in Hampstead where her own great-great-grandfather rumored to be the model for Ebenezer Scrooge lived. But as Winifred discovers, there is no evidence that the Ripper ever visited Hampstead, let alone buried one of his victims inside the chimney of a house there, and his presence in the story is a red herring. Much more interesting is the mysterious disappearance of Winnie's cousin, John Comestor, the latest resident of the family house. Moreover, something is making an infernal racket inside the chimney, and soon there are other bizarre manifestations of some unseen force. A Dickensian assortment of neighbors (one dotty lady is called Mrs. Maddingly) variously obfuscate and hint at strange events. Maguire's prose is both jaunty and scary; he knows how to mix spooky ingredients with contemporary situations. By the time a spirit called Gervasa begins to speak through Winnie, readers will be hooked.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Children's novelist Winifred Rudge flies from her Boston-area home to London to pay a visit to her distant cousin and old friend John. Instead of receiving his guest open-armed, John is nowhere to be found. His office staff is evasive in fielding Winnie's calls, and Mac and Jenkins, a pair of superstitious home remodelers hired by John to work on the kitchen in his absence, begin behaving strangely, as eerie symbols appear on the wall and inexplicable noises issue from the walled-up chimney space. That Winnie is not alone in her victimization by an otherworldly spirit is a good sign she's not having a breakdown. Maguire, who already has two best sellers to his credit (e.g., Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister) makes the supernatural chillingly real. Setting the story in Winnie and John's ancestral home and filling the neighboring house with John's intimidating new inamorata, Allegra, makes us root for the self-destructive Winnie, a most unlikely heroine. An essential purchase and a substantial Halloween treat. Margee Smith, Grace A. Dow Memorial Lib., Midland, MI
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.