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Creepy Castles, Dark Dungeons, and Powerful Palaces

by J.H. Everett & Marilyn Scott-Waters

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: July 17th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8971-4
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

History is more haunted than readers may think.

Disney might have some believing that castles are clean, pink and full of unicorn tapestries. But Virgil Dante, youngest Master Ghostorian in London, is here to disabuse readers of that notion, ostensibly with the help of his raven, Thor, and a passel of ghosts. They tour history with the assistance of a cursed pocket watch and look in on castles, dungeons, palaces and graveyards. Here and there, they learn a thing or two from a “real” ghost from the locale and time period they are visiting. More often, Virgil just lectures in a colloquial narrative voice or offers maps, lists and diagrams of horrible places and things in world history. The usual suspects get the eye: The Tower of London and the Bastille figure prominently, but there are also lesser-known nests of nastiness like Himeji Castle in Japan and Castle Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. Everett and Scott-Waters have put together an instructive, amusing-enough gross-and-horrible history title. However, it feels a bit scattered, and the ghosts are few and far between. Abundant black-and-white illustrations are grisly and spooky enough to hold interest.

Reluctant historians may find Virgil's "ghostory" appealing. (timeline, maps, resources) (Nonfiction. 8-12)