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Tamsin (Firebird Fantasy)

4.6 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Peter S. Beagle creates magic in this coming-of-age ghost story, returning to a subgenre he first explored in A Fine and Private Place. When her mother remarries, 13-year-old narrator Jenny Gluckstein moves from New York City to a run-down, haunted, 300-year-old farm in Dorset, England. In slow-moving early chapters, unhappy Jenny's beloved Mister Cat is quarantined for six months and she must attend an English girl's school. Jenny's voice is painfully genuine, her self-description merciless. If early adolescence brings on flashbacks, wait to read this book.

The pace picks up when Mister Cat returns and Jenny meets Meena Chari, whose belief in the supernatural comes from growing up in ghost-ridden India. First Mister Cat finds a new girlfriend, a ghostly Persian Cat only he and Jenny can see. Then she and her younger stepbrother, Julian, confront a boggart who's been playing tricks on the family. The gnome-like boggart is dressed in a Seven Dwarves hat, Robin Hood garb, "and heavy little boots, ankle-high--I'd have taken them for Doc Martens, except I don't think they make them in boggart sizes." The boggart warns her to beware of the ghost cat, her mistress, and "the Other One" most of all. But one afternoon she follows Mister Cat to meet Tamsin Willoughby, ghost of the farm-founder's daughter. Tamsin is friendly, but won't tell Jenny anything about the Other One, or talk about Edric, apparently her lost love. To free Tamsin's ghost, Jenny must relive the tragic history of 17th-century Dorset and face grave danger.

Tamsin is vintage Beagle: there's a shape-shifting Pooka, a ghostly love story, music, the Goddess, and the Wild Hunt. It's beautifully written and can be read on several levels, including as a loving homage to Thomas Hardy's moody novels (Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd) and poetry (Selected Poems). Or you can lose yourself in the story. Fans of The Last Unicorn will enjoy this one. --Nona Vero --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Like his enchanting The Last Unicorn, Beagle's newest fantasy features characters so real they leap off his pages and into readers' souls. Tamsin Willoughby, dead some 300 years, haunts ramshackle old Stourhead Farm in Dorset, England, an ancient 700-acre estate that 13-year-old Jenny's new, English stepfather is restoring. Thoroughly American Jenny, miserable at being transplanted from New York City to rural Britain, finds a suffering kindred spirit in Tamsin, a ghost who is mourning Edric, a love she lost during Dorset's punitive Bloody Assizes under King James II. Tamsin leads Jenny through an engrossing night world inhabited by an array of British spiritsAthe Black Dog, a braggart Boggart, ominous Oakmen, the shapeshifting Pooka and a marvelous mystical army-booted Earth Mother. To save Tamsin and gentle Edric from eternal torment, Jenny faces evil personified: demonic Judge Jeffries, who sentenced hundreds of people to brutal execution during the Assizes. Slipping effortlessly between Jenny's brash 1999 lingo, the raw primeval dialect of ancient Dorset and Tamsin's exquisite Jacobean English, Beagle has created a stunning tale of good battling evil, of wonder and heartbreak and of a love able to outlast the worst vileness of the human heart. Fantasy rarely dances through the imagination in more radiant garb than this. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Firebird Fantasy
  • Library Binding: 335 pages
  • Publisher: San Val (June 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1417622881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1417622887
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,128,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm not exaggerating when I say that Peter Beagle is one of the best writers in the world. If you read fantasy, you've certainly read his novel "The Last Unicorn," voted one of the five best fantasy novels of all time. It's always a treat when he gifts us with a new story, which isn't often. In "Tamsin," he tries out a new style, very unlike anything he's written before. It's a twist on the classic ghost story, written from the viewpoint of a headstrong, 14-year old Bronx-raised girl who's trying to come to terms with her mother's remarriage, and with their new home: a run-down, 300-year old manor in the English countryside. If that wasn't bad enough, it turns out that the huge old house and farm that her family's trying to renovate are positively bustling with supernatural activity. Cold drafts, distant voices, boggarts in the kitchen, and things that go bump in the night. This supernatural world takes on an entirely new aspect for Jenny, however, when she discovers Tamsin, the ghost of a 19-year old girl who lived and "stopped," as she puts it, 300 years ago in the manor when it was first built. Tamsin is beautiful, mysterious and compelling, but as their friendship grows, Jenny is drawn deeper and deeper into the strange world of the "old country," and into deadly peril.
This is a great book for young and old alike. It's very compelling; you won't be able to put it down until the very end. Like most of Peter's books, the story runs the whole emotional range, from funny to sad to terrifying to joyous. And throughout, there's always the mystery and secret of Tamsin, unfolding piece by piece in Peter's Beagle's truly exhilarating, masterful, fairy-tale like style.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Wow. Wow. Just, wow.

This book is really a good one, I'd reccomend it to people definitely 12 or up (though it never would've stopped me). This book reads like it's fast paced, and it's only when you look at the size of the text, etc., that you notice how long it is. It's about the protagonist, Jenny, moving to England, and having to face many things, among them her decidedly sulky attitude (partly because of the 6-month loss of her dear, dear friend, Mister Cat, in quarantine). The other part of it is her house. It is HUGE, set on about a hundred (or, at least seventy) acres, with three floors, huge rooms... a real seventeenth-century 'manor'. But, it has not been cared for in a long time, and it seems to practically resist electricity. Soon Jenny meets Tamsin, a ghost who died when she was twenty and can't remember why she is still stuck on earth. It's really hard to put down.

Amazingly, the character descriptions and personalities are right on target. I could perfectly imagine the way every person would act in a real situation, probably because the atmosphere seems so much like real life.

Five stars and a round of applause for Peter S. Beagle!
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Format: Kindle Edition
I had only ever read Peter S. Beagle’s “The Last Unicorn,” and didn’t even realize he had so many other books! So I was excited to pick up “Tamsin,” and it was an excellent read—much less lyrical and magical to me than “The Last Unicorn,” but with a wholly distinctive voice and a really good storyline.

Jenny Gluckstein is a typical American teenager—divorced parents, kind of a bad attitude, and struggling to find herself. When her mother becomes engaged to an Englishman named Evan, she finds herself packed up and moved to a dilapidated farm in Dorset, with two stepbrothers and a house full of strange and spooky noises.

At first Jenny is determined to be unhappy, even when her beloved Mister Cat is released from quarantine. But then she meets the lovely, sad, and charming Tamsin Willoughby, a 300-year-old ghost who can’t quit remember all the details of her past and is stuck in between life and death. Tamsin opens up the world of spirits to Jenny—boggarts, pookas, haunted woods, and even the fearsome Wild Hunt. Their friendship is Jenny’s support and she becomes deeper entwined in Tamsin’s past, trying to find out why Tamsin is stuck and what happened to her lover, Edric.

“Tamsin” is both a coming of age story and a good old-fashioned ghost story, enjoyable for both teens and adults. Jenny’s voice is so real and unique it’s like she’s talking straight to you, telling her story, and Judge Jeffrey’s throws an increasingly frightening and tense tone over the latter half of the book. Jenny is also complex, likeable at times and frustrating at others; her family and best friend Meena make excellent supporting characters as well. Sometimes I read a book and wish I had read it as a child, because I know I would have enjoyed the book over and over through the years. This is one of those books.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a highly enjoyable ghost story. Ninteen year old New Yorker Jenny is looking back on the events that took place after she and her mother move to a run-down farm in Dorset, England to live with her stepfather and stepbrothers. Along with the story of Jenny coming to terms with her new stepfamily and settling in to a new school where she feels like an outsider, we also have the story of Tamsin.
Tamsin is the daughter of the original owner of the farm, from the fifteenth century. For some reason, Tamsin does not leave the farmhouse after her tragic early death, but hangs around in ghost form, along with her ghost cat. When Jenny sees and speaks to Tamsin, this seems to stir up all of the characters of myth and legend that abound in Dorset--Pookahs, Billy Blinds, and the Black Dog, who appears as an omen of something terrible to come.
Yet as we find out more about Tamsin's past, and Jenny is drawn deeper and deeper into the place where past and present meet, we realize that not all of these characters are merely mischevious--some are downright evil.
This book builds to a whirlwind climax that will have you on the edge of your set. It manages to be a thrilling ghost story while also a satisfying story of family life and "coming-of-age".
Very enjoyable.
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