Saturday, January 25, 2020

Review Bomb | Mary Downing Hahn Edition

I have loved Mary Downing Hahn since elementary school. My most favorite book of hers has always been Wait Til Helen Comes. I also enjoyed Dead Man in Indian Creek and Stepping on the Cracks, which I read countless times as well.

Last fall at my school's book fair, I was psyched to find the new release from Hahn, The Girl in the Locked Room. I had seen it on NetGalley and been so disappointed to not get approved, so I snatched it right up, along with a few other ghostly stories that I told myself were for my students, but were also pretty much for me too. After that I decided to look up all the book Hahn has written in the years since I last read her books when I was a student myself. here were quite a few and I was so happy to find that I enjoyed most of them just as much now as I had when I was a child.

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A girl finds a doll buried in the garden of a home where she and her mother are renting an apartment space from a crabby old lady who seems to hate everyone. Ghostly time-travel ensues. Great adventure.

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The cover of this one is GORGEOUS and had great expectations for it. I liked that it was set during the tragic influenza outbreak of 1918, but I had a hard time liking any of the girls, even the victim, because they were all terrible in their own special ways. Not a terrible story by any means, but not my favorite.

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This one had me from the start. Watch out for Old Auntie...

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I was on the fence about reading this one because I think the whole changeling scenario is weird, but I ended up really liking this one after all. It's still creepy AF though.

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Hahn doing what she does best, bringing the chills in this murder mystery. I like that she writes kids in such a believable way, and it has always been one of her strengths.

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Hahn + ghosts = magic. Definitely one of my favorites. Who wouldn't want to go live with family they've never known and be berated and yelled for not being as wonderful as the dead cousin who was actually a major be-yotch.

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Another spine-tingling, though I did not realize until I started it that I had read this one about ten years ago with one of my classes. Obviously I kept reading it anyway even though I knew how it was going to end. It's easy to feel bad for the boys trapped there, and to want to help them out.

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Eh, I did not care much for this one - until the end. I am not much into the time-travel aspect, but I loved seeing how history was changed for this family because of said time travel.

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Another deliciously ghostly story. I really like how Hahn can make the ghosts be so horrible or rude or mean, and also still make you feel sorry for them because they were not necessarily always that way. Even when they try to kill you.

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Not too into the vampire thing here. It was a decent story but the main character was whiny AF. And really, if the vampire is not named Angel, it is super hard for me to care.

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The book that got me back into reading all the Mary Downing Hahn books I could find at the library. I was so glad to find after reading this one and thinking about it, that Hahn is still a gifted story teller who can provide all kinds of chills and thrills for her readers.

I know these are not much in the way of actual reviews, but I loved most of them and if you have a late elementary/early middle grade reader who is a bit reluctant when it comes to picking out books, you can't go wrong with any of these!

Have you read any of these as a child, or an adult? What's your favorite or least favorite Hahn book?

Happy Reading!


  1. I have never read Hahn, but I'm definitely adding her to my long list of writers whom I need to get to know.

    1. I loved her books so much as a child, and found that I could enjoy them for the children's books they are even as an adult. She weaves creepy and spooky tales that are just right for the age group. If you plan to give her a try, start with Wait Til Helen Comes, or Took. They're written 20-30 years apart, but both so excellent.

  2. At first I was going to say this was a new to me author, but then I spotted Took and realized that yes, I had read one of her books. :) I'm such a wuss that I probably won't be back for more, but man she is gifted building the chills and having good characters even the villains- maybe especially the villains.

    1. She is very talented, isn't she? I always felt like it was the perfect amount of spookiness and Hahn is so good at increasing that chill, like you said. Took was probably one of the creepier ones, at least in my opinion, so you could probably try All the Lovely Bad Ones, or Deep and Dark and Dangerous. Just turn all the lights on!

  3. I have never read this author before. It sounds like most of these were really outstanding reads. I will have to keep her work in mind the next time I am in the mood for a middle grade read.

    1. Please do! She is really great at keeping things just the right amount of creepy/spooky. Wait Til Helen Comes will always be my fave, as it is one of her first books I ever read as a child. I found Took, and Deep and Dark and Dangerous to be very enthralling - though I could say that about most of them as most got 5 stars. Took is so so good, start there or with Helen when you are ready! The Old Willis Place is another good one which I read a couple years ago as a class read aloud, and is fantastic also.

  4. Hahn is a new-to-me author. I don't remember seeing her books around before so maybe she's not published over here

    1. That's possible, now I will have to do a quick search on Amazon UK...aaaaaand they're available there! There's even a collection. Some different covers too. Let me know if you ever try any of them. The Old Willis Place was a great one I read a couple years ago with students also.

  5. i haven't read any of her work, but i am lovin' those covers. they do look reaaaaaallly good
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. I hope you give any of them a try - though I will always recommend Wait Til Helen Comes first, because it is my all-time fave Hahn book. Took, and The Old Willis Place are also really good and the ones I would recommend next.

  6. I love authors who portray children well. One of my favorites is Joan Aiken.

    1. I thought the name was familiar so I hopped over to Goodreads to check. I have not read any of her books but am familiar with some. I think it takes special skill to write children authentically, and Hahn does it well.


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