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The House of Dies Drear Paperback – January 1, 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 159 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A huge, old house with secret tunnels, a cantankerous caretaker, and buried treasure is a dream-come-true for 13-year-old Thomas. The fact that it's reputedly haunted only adds to its appeal! As soon as his family moves in, Thomas senses something strange about the Civil War era house, which used to be a critical stop on the Underground Railroad. With the help of his father, he learns about the abolitionists and escaping slaves who kept the Underground Railroad running. While on his own, he explores the hidden passageways in and under the house, piecing clues together in an increasingly dangerous quest for the truth about the past. Newbery medalist Virginia Hamilton creates a heart-pounding adventure with this absorbing classic for older readers. (Ages 9 to 12) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books "A hundred years ago, Dies Drear and two slaves he was hiding in his house, an Underground Railroad station in Ohio, had been murdered. The house, huge and isolated, was fascinating, Thomas thought, but he wasn't sure he was glad Papa had bought it--funny things kept happening, frightening things... The secret of the house is revealed in an exciting final sequence that maintains beautifully the mysterious and dramatic story of a black family caught in an atmosphere of fear and danger. Written with distinction, an imaginiative and imposing book."

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reissue edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416914056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416914051
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Turtleback
Virginia Hamilton does a superb job of combining historical facts with mystery. This book is about a boy who moves in to a house that used to be part of the Under Ground Railroad. When Dies Drear, the original owner of the old house, sends 3 slaves on a mission back to slavery to give slaves money to help them escape to freedom the legend begins. 2 of the three slaves were killed, and one fled to the north, the ghosts of the 2 slaves were said to have murdered Dies Drear the very same week. When Thomas's family moves in, Thomas finds out that there is an exquisite network of tunnels that run all through the house... he also finds out that the ghosts of Dies Drear and the 2 slaves are said to haunt the old, gloomy house. When strange things start happening, Thomas begins to beleive that there really are ghosts. Then, one night, while Thomas and his father are determined to find out who-or what is creating these strange happenings,, the mystery starts to unravel. This book got directly to the point, and kept me hooked. I couldn't stop reading this book, it is one of the best books I have ever read, and I would recommend it to anyone-whether you get scared easily, or love horror novels!
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Format: Paperback
I first read The House of Dies Drear more than 35 years ago, when I was in fifth or sixth grade. Finding a used copy of it recently I decided to revisit it, not so much out of nostalgia but instead as an attempt to (finally) understand it. And, as I had back in grade school, I failed to do so.

A brief synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Thomas Small and his family move from North Carolina to a small town in Ohio, where they take up residence in an historic house once owned by the famed abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Dies Drear. Thomas hopes to encounter ghosts, and for a time it seems he does; exploring hidden tunnels and caves that surround the house, he is pursued by what he believes are unseen specters and plagued by the devilish (in Thomas's eyes) caretaker Mr. Pluto. Thomas and his family also struggle for acceptance by the neighborhood children and the community as a whole. In the end, much of the mysterious behavior and events are explained by the revelation that the neighboring Darrow family, convinced that Drear left behind a buried treasure, have been attempting to circumvent Pluto and drive off the Smalls so it can continue its hunt for the fortune. But the Smalls, now in league with Pluto, his son Mayhew, and the little girl Pesty, confound the Darrows' plans by playing an elaborate practical joke on them.

The book is either a masterpiece or a rather pedestrian work of fiction, and I still can't say which it is. In some conventional ways, it seems to be the latter. Author Virginia Hamilton, an award-winning and nationally-recognized writer, to my ear has a literary voice that is a bit odd, stilted, and off-putting, and her perspective jumps from character to character suddenly and unevenly.
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Format: Paperback
This story is about a boy named Thomas and his family, the Smalls, who move int a new house called Dies Drear. This house was used for slaves who wanted to return to savery or escape from it. Many things happen to them where they point to an old that is mysterious, but for a good reason, as the bad guy. Strange things happen to them while they are there, and it panics them because they are worried that something might happen to their family. Mr. Small, Thomas's father, and Thomas try to find their way through this big secret that they know is being kept from them. Finally they capture the old mysterious man and they find out that he isn't the bad guy at all, he was just trying to protect Dies Drear, because he didn't know whether he could trust the Small's or if they were on the other guy's side. He kept the secret of what the winding tunnels under the house held. Together the old man and the Smalls scare off the bad guys, at least for a little while. The old man now knows and trust that the Smalls will kept the treasure of the tunnels safe, so he doesn't have to protect them any more. That is how the story ends.
I like this book because it has a lot a mysery and history to it, and I thought it was really unique. I am not a book-reader, but I can tell you that this book isn't just for people who like to read books it is definitely for every type of book reader. I hope you decide to read this book, because it is a really great book in my opinion.
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Format: Paperback
The House of Dies Drear is an exellent book! A thriller, Thomas Small is a clever 13-year-old black boy who moves from plain farm lands to the wonderous sopposedly haunted house of the lengerdary Underground Railrod wonder Dies Drear. Thomas is a trouble seeker, and boy does he find it! The 1st few chatpers are a big boring, but after that, it's all uphill! Sevret passagways, a haunted groundskeeper Mr. Pluto, and confusion mixed in with it! It is very interesting and it makes you think! There is a lot of background on the Underground Railroad! I can't WAIT to read the sequal, but hopefully the ending of it will be better. Yes, the ending of this book is very... dissapointing! Basicially, everything works out the way that you would think it would, but then it's all downhill from there! But, it is still an exellent book that I would deffinetly reccomned to anyone that likes to read! I loved it, but it could have had a better ending. It's like a mystery... it starts down low, goes up way high, then kind of drags. But still, a thriller! I LOVED IT!
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