I was kindly sent a free copy of this book by the publisher Walker Books for a review. It is a hardback book with a ghostly tale, here is my review.
On the last day of a family holiday, Cherry is determined to find enough shells to complete the necklace she’s been making. But when a storm rolls in cutting off her route back along the shore, she must find another way to get home.
This is a well written tale that had me gasp at the end of the story. The book is a hardback with an extra sleeve around it. The story begins with Cherry, at the holiday cottage her family are staying in, looking at the necklace she’s making. The story soon flows towards a trip to the beach where Cherry starts searching for the remaining shells she needs to collect to finish off the necklace. There are some lovely illustrations, which look like the one on the front cover, that really add to the story and when the storm comes in, the atmosphere turns dark. Not only are the images really good but Morpurgo’s ability to create a dark and tense atmosphere is good too.
The story becomes more interesting when Cherry gets stranded. She has to climb through some old tunnels in the rock to escape the thrashing sea. While inside the tunnels the tale becomes an interesting one of ghosts. I won’t give away what happens but I did enjoy the tale until the ending. The end of the story has a twist. Unfortunately unlike many reviewers (perhaps due to the fact I love paranormal tales) I did guess the twist of the story but probably wouldn’t have when I was younger. However I expected this twist to be part of a greater story. Instead the book ends with a shock and that’s it. It’s hard to explain this without giving away spoilers but the whole story felt like a really good one until the ending. As an adult I just gasped but the end twist could be quite upsetting to some kids.
Along with a shock ending there is also an image of a really distressed Cherry with tears rolling down her face. Reading the text and seeing this image can be really distressing. For older children I think this would be a nice and interesting ghostly tale to read, but for younger children, or those who are quite sensitive (those who would cry at a sad or shocking ending) probably won’t enjoy this story. I really depends on the child who the book is aimed and I don’t personally think I would have enjoyed this ending at all as a child. Such a shame as I could easily see an extra few pages adding to an overall better ending with the twist still included.
Overall I liked the story and I can’t fault the writing or the illustrations which are really lovely, but just don’t think it’s a story I’d give young or sensitive kids.
A tense and thrilling ghost story from the internationally acclaimed author of War Horse. It all began with a necklace, made of glistening pink cowrie shells. A long, long necklace that had taken Cherry days – weeks – of careful, painstaking work. It was nearly complete, and Cherry was determined it would be the longest necklace she had ever made; that it would be fit for a giant! But the end of the holidays had arrived. “You’ve only got today, Cherry,” said her mother. “Just today, that’s all.” Cherry didn’t mind, a day would be enough – she only needed a few more shells. So, amidst the taunts of her older brothers, she set out to search for them. Then the clouds grew dark and the waves grew large, and as the storm blew in, Cherry realized, to her horror, that she was cut off from the shore. From then on, events began to take a decidedly dark turn. One from which there was no turning back…