Middle schoolers who like a spooky mystery will take to Joan Carris' latest. Beware the Ravens, Aunt Morbelia is Carris' second novel to feature Morbelia Fearing, a transplanted Brit and great-aunt to seventh grader, Todd Fearing. Together with Todd and his friend, Jeff, Morbelia travels to England to check up on her inherited property and to treat the boys to a bit of a holiday. Puzzles concerning eccentric Fearing ancestors and the decay of Harrowood, the ancient family estate, propel the action in this story. Eerie settings, disguised stalkers, and strange sounds and situations create a creepy, suspenseful tale, a genuine page-turner. Yet after unraveling the twists and turns and explaining the spookiness, a reader will come away with three kinds of new knowledge: a world of information about birds; an introductory acquaintanceship with the geography and contemporary and historical facts about London; and an awareness of the value of accepting differences among human beings.
- Gisela Jernigan
Great Aunt Morbelia may be a senior citizen, but she has enough spirit and energy to keep her grand nephew Todd Fearing and his friend Jeff on their toes during a visit to her ancestral English home, Harrowood. As soon as they arrive, croaking ravens and other odd occurrences cause them to wonder if perhaps Harrowood has too much spirit, the ghostly kind, that is. Their quest for a solution to an old family mystery also leads them to London and the Natural History Museum. Good-natured banter between Jeff and Todd and their impressions as visitors to England, help make this nonviolent tale a good choice for beginning mystery fans.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Readers who met Todd and his great-aunt in Aunt Morbelia and the Screaming Skulls (Little, 1990) won't be surprised to find them in another eerie situation. Aunt Morbelia has inherited the family estate in England, and Todd and his friend Jeff accompany her on a tour of inspection. They find that the house not only looks like the all-purpose haunted mansion, but also comes with a gruesome murder legend. They hear strange sounds at night, and odd people seem to be watching them. The boys' humorous, bantering dialogue presents an amusing contrast to Aunt Morbelia's straight-laced, almost pedantic tone. Todd is dyslexic; he accepts his learning difficulty and compensates for it skillfully-it even enables him to deduce important clues to the mystery. Combining gothic overtones, a touch of humor, and a pinch of English culture, this novel is a fine contrast to cookie-cutter horror series and will appeal to readers seeking ``another scary book.''-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
In this entertaining sequel to "Aunt Morbelia and the Screaming Skulls" (1990), 12-year-old Todd, his eccentric aunt Morbelia, and his best friend, Jeff, are off to England to settle Aunt Morbelia's inheritance--a huge, crumbling, appropriately eerie manor house. Mystery devotees will be hooked from the moment Aunt Morbelia announces "an unfortunate omen" and will eagerly follow along through cliff-hanging chapters as the trio is stalked by menacing strangers and puzzles out the riddle of Cousin Albert's journal. Along with a nifty tour of London, Carris provides plenty of nicely placed clues, enough chills to please middle-grade readers, and a few daffy characters for comic relief. This one will really be easy to booktalk.