“Banished” to boarding school in contemporary Salisbury, England, 11-year-old Jon finds himself targeted by phantom riders determined to punish him for something that happened centuries before.
When his mother sends him off to Salisbury Cathedral School, Jon arrives “shrouded in thick mists of homesickness.” Pursued by ghost riders only he can see and who call him “Hartgill,” his mother’s maiden name, a terrified Jon confides in fearless classmate Ella. She takes him to her grandmother, an expert on local ghosts. Ella’s grandmother warns Jon he’s being haunted by the ghost of Lord Stourton, a villain hanged in 1556 for the murders of Jon’s Hartgill ancestors. Ella suggests Jon evoke the ghost of William Longspee, a famous knight buried in Salisbury Cathedral. Longspee’s ghost proves a valorous champion, helping Jon eradicate Stourton and his vendetta. But Longspee harbors his own dark secret, which Jon pledges to resolve. Historic details about the real Hartgill, Longspee and Stourton are deftly woven into a ripping good story. It's told with self-effacing humor from the perspective of an awkward boy who emerges as honorable and brave as the ghost knight and the contemporary girl he befriends. Black-and-white illustrations add to the Tudor atmosphere and drama.
Sword-swinging ghosts will haunt readers of this droll, harrowing and historically grounded ghost story. (author’s note) (Fantasy. 8-12)