Monday, February 20, 2012


Noyes, Deborah. The Ghosts of Kerfol. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2008. ISBN: 978-0-7636-4825-1. $7.99 US/$11.00 CAN. Ages 14+

Deborah Noyes riffs off Edith Wharton’s gothic ghost story, Kerfol, to create this compilation of short stories. The original “backstory,” that is, Edith Wharton’s original ghost tale, is told from the point of view of a young servant girl, observing the terrifying episode of madness, wrath, and haunting that make up Kerfol. From the death of Yves de Cornault, the dogs (and human characters) have been returning yearly to haunt the castle. In the short stories that follow, Noyes weaves together new hauntings in various time periods, up to the present day. The stories hold together nicely: just when you begin to miss a character, he or she shows up as a ghost! The final story, I think, puts a brilliant twist on the sequence – the haunted visitor to Kerfol is deaf and he, unlike the other haunted visitors, interacts most intimately with the Kerfol spirits. His sensory separation from the world allows him to be ghost, but not ghost simultaneously.

Noyes’ novel is well timed, with a resurgence of interest in the Gothic. But unlike many other gothic interpretations of today, there are no vampires or implausible love relationships, just a good story, enough of the uncanny to disturb, and interesting, complex characters. The Ghosts of Kerfol is a welcome addition to the modern gothic young adult novels on the shelves today!

Marisa Behan

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