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The Ghosts on the Hill by Bill Nagelkerke.

August 17, 2020 Comments off

Ghosts-on-the-Hill-cover-webThe Ghosts on the Hill by Bill Nagelkerke. Pub. Cuba Press, 2020.

Near the end of this superb story for primary and intermediate readers, Elsie, an 11 year old girl says the lines”stories are to make sense of things that seem to make no sense at all”. It was a line that her father told her and it describes this story perfectly.

In early Christchurch April 3 1883 two boys, Davie and Archie bunk school walk to Heathcote and take the train through the tunnel to Lyttelton. They are hungry, tired and cold but need to walk over the Bridle Path to get back home.

Elsie meets the boys, can’t help them with money but gives them food to eat. The weather turns foul and the boys go missing and are later found dead. Elsie is haunted by their death and one year later on April 4 1884 she vows to face her fears and walk the Bridle Path.

Read this story and see what happens.

This is old fashioned writing in which every word has been carefully chosen and fits just right. Old sayings that were used when I grew upĀ  litter the descriptive text. I wonder how many people still lick their middle finger and hold it up to see which way the wind is blowing?

The descriptive prose sometimes has a Dickensian feel about it and the story while sad is told in a caring way. I read it in less than an hour while tucked up with a hot water bottle and it left me with a good feeling.

Based on a true story but Bill manages to get some Maori legend and myth into the story especially with reference to those Maori fairy folk the Patupaiarehe. One of my stories of the year.