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Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story Paperback – April 21, 2008

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Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story + The Doll in the Garden: A Ghost Story + The Old Willis Place
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (April 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547028644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547028644
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (431 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"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." — Booklist, ALA, starred review

"Genuinely scary, complete with dark secrets from the past, unsettled graves, and a very real ghost." -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"An unusually scary, well-crafted ghost fantasy." -- Kirkus Reviews

More About the Author

Mary Downing Hahn, a former children's librarian, is the award-winning author of many popular ghost stories, including Deep and Dark and Dangerous and The Old Willis Place. An avid reader, traveler, and all-around arts lover, Ms. Hahn lives in Columbia, Maryland, with her two cats, Oscar and Rufus.

Customer Reviews

I first read this book when I was 10 and in the 5th grade.
Amazon Customer
Wait till Helen Comes, is one of the best books I've read in fact one of my all time admired books.
Xixi Turner
If you have a young one that like ghost stories this is a very good book.
E. Springer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I first read this book about 15 years ago. I've probably read it at least 50 times. It wasn't a book - it was an experience. I mean, how often does this happen - a stranger comes up to you because you're holding a book, says they knew they had to talk to you when they saw it, you bond over it and go on to be friends for years. That's what kind of book this is...!
This is a scary book. I wouldn't go near anything or anyone with the name "Helen" or "Harper" for years. This book also got me started reading the other books by Mary Downing Hahn. Every time I went to a library or bookstore, I immediately looked for new books by her.
I know my paperback is around here someplace (I remember the library hardcover's much nicer cover illustration...) but I haven't read it in a while. However, little bits of it or certain phrases from it pop up for me now and then... I think the book got so ingrained in me that I don't even notice it! Parts of it were so vivid and (fittingly) haunting - the link between the girls' names, the ruins of the house, the damage done to Molly and Michael's rooms, the creek that wound around through the forest and near the graveyard before finally leading to Harper Pond. Thinking about it still gives me chills.
Excellent... I can't recomend it enough.
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Megan on July 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is an amazingly well-crafted ghost story. Spooky without ever being really scary, it is a good read for anyone of any age.

Molly's mother has remarried, and the new family (including Molly's brother Michael and new step-sister, Heather) moves out to the countryside so that the artist parents can have studio space. Heather, however, is a horrible little brat that tries to make Molly and Michael's life a nightmare. Since she is younger than Molly or Michael, and still hasn't gotten over her mother's death, Molly and Michael always get blamed. Even when Heather starts claiming that she can see a ghost named Helen, who is coming to get Molly...

I have a very low fear tolerance, and still can't watch horror movies (Christine scared the living daylights out of me as a teenager, and I couldn't sleep for days), but I still love this book. I re-read it every year on Halloween for years, and I still enjoy reading it. Any child, teenager, or adult who likes ghost stories should definately pick this one up.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
The book Wait Helen Comes is one of the scariest books I have ever read. It's a mysery and ghost story by Mary Downing Hawn. The book's about a ghost named Helen who died in a fire.A girl named Molly,her step-sister named Heather who's mom died in a fire ,and her brother Michael who thinks everything has a scientifical explanation.

I liked the part when Heather got back the locket from Helen.But I didn't like that the only thing on the letter was don't forget me.But I wonder if Michael will beleve in Helen.

I think that the theme is love is strongest overall. In the book two charecters did horrible things.But they where forgiven by other charecters.So I think that love is strongest overall.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Robinson on April 5, 2012
Format: Audible Audio Edition
First, the good. The author's use of language, while not in the top class, was well above average and I believe that children can only benefit from reading the beautiful descriptions. I think many children of the age at which this book was aimed will identify with the protagonist -- her heightened emotions, her sensitivity, her feelings of isolation, and her interest in poetry and fantasy. Even though some of her interests are a bit dated more than 25 years after the book was written (do prepubescent girls still like unicorns?), it is a convincing portrait of a girl that age, capturing both the sense of wonder and the angst.

I think a lot of kids will find this story cathartic and moving and will benefit from its basic message, that parents (normal parents, I should stress) will love their children no matter what. I also think that it might help children to cope with feelings about death. One of the other reviewers criticized Molly's dark view of death, and while she had a point, I do think that the author realistically portrayed the fear and anguish that a child -- or anyone of any age, indeed -- would have when first having to confront mortality.

Now, the bad. Molly and Michael are realistically portrayed, but their parents and Heather are not. The message about a parent's unconditional love would be much more convincing if this particular mother and father had actually acted loving before the book's end. On the one hand, you have a man who spoils his daughter and is completely fixed on an obviously unrealistic view of her while at the same time refusing to do anything that would really help her, like send her to a counselor or try to facilitate a good relationship between her and her stepsiblings.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kind Bean on August 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is a new beginning for Molly, her brother Michael, and their mom, after she remarries Dave and his daughter, Heather. They just moved into the country in a house that was converted from a church, complete with a graveyard in the backyard. Things are already hard with Heather, who acts bratty and wants nothing more than to have her father all back to herself again. Yet, she continues to get away with it because her mother died in a fire and everyone feels sorry for her. Now that the "family" has moved, things get harder and Heather pulls away even more. No one believes Molly when she tells them that a ghost of a drowned girl is after Heather, so it is up to her to save Heather. Meanwhile, Heather does all she can to breakup the family.

I think that the story moves quickly and builds up the creepy momentum all the way to the end. It is all that a ghost story should be and very much fun. Yet, I just thought that Heather was soo bratty and her father soo naïve, that is was almost unbearable. I think it took away from the story, just a bit. Other than that, I think it was great - highly recommended.
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