Hunt for the Seventh

Hunt for the Seventh

4.4 53
by Christine Morton-Shaw

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Jim moves to ancient Minerva Hall and encounters the ghosts of six children. They urge him to find the seventh child and leave him cryptic clues that point to a dark, ancient prophecy that only Jim can stop from being fulfilled. Jim turns to Einstein, a brilliant autistic boy who lives at the Hall. If anyone can help Jim, Einstein can. But the boy, who speaks in

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Jim moves to ancient Minerva Hall and encounters the ghosts of six children. They urge him to find the seventh child and leave him cryptic clues that point to a dark, ancient prophecy that only Jim can stop from being fulfilled. Jim turns to Einstein, a brilliant autistic boy who lives at the Hall. If anyone can help Jim, Einstein can. But the boy, who speaks in riddles, proves to be as mysterious as the dead children. Time is running out; if Jim doesn't figure out the clues, innocent people will die.

Christine Morton-Shaw has linked ancient rites with modern mystery to create a chilling, suspenseful tale that will keep readers guessing to the very end.

Editorial Reviews

Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Intricately plotted, suspensful, and eerie.”
VOYA - Rayna Patton
When Jim, Sal, and their father move into chilly old Minerva Hall, Jim instantly is repelled by its unpleasant owner, Lord Minerva, and by the terrifying feeling that ghostly children are just out of sight. The death of Jim's mother has completely devastated his father, who badly needs the job as head gardener for the large estate. Frightened and isolated, Jim begins to see visions of six children's freak deaths and follows the clues that their spirits leave for him. They lead him to discoveries about a nearby village and the long-dead children who restlessly haunt Minerva Hall. Jim finds only one "friend," Einstein, the strange, autistic son of Lord Minerva, truant from boarding school, who hides in the grounds. Lord Minerva becomes ever-more threatening as Jim pries into long-concealed Minerva secrets. One is an ancient curse that tells of seven who must die, and Jim is filled with foreboding for Einstein, surely in grave danger. As torrential rain falls, the village is threatened by a devastating flood, and the swirling waters nearly overwhelm Jim. In the end, he realizes that Einstein is already dead, murdered by his father. The curse is fulfilled, and now Jim must draw on superhuman power to avert further tragedy. Intricately plotted, suspenseful, and eerie, Morton-Shaw's new novel is bound to attract readers. This thriller is quite complex but ultimately satisfying, as Lord Minerva dies in prison, and Jim's family and the dead children finally find peace. Reviewer: Rayna Patton
Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
Still reeling from the death of their mother, Jim, his sister Sal, and their father move to Minerva Estate. Jim's father's job is groundskeeper; Jim's job is to not explore the estate. When Jim begins to be haunted by the ghosts of children, he has no choice but to break the rules and search the estate for some clue as to what happened to these children. As Jim has visions of the deaths of six children, he begins to unravel the nature of a prophesy that calls for the death of a Minerva child every generation. Aided by an autistic boy Jim dubs Einstein, Jim tries to uncover the truth about the deaths before a similar fate befalls Einstein. But finding clues is difficult when the current lord of Minerva Estate forbids Jim to go anywhere on the estate. This fascinating mystery has a wonderful setting, engaging characters, and a twist that this reviewer, an avid reader of horror and mystery, did not see coming. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9

"Find the Seventh." That whispered phrase haunts Jim in this eerie mystery of death, ghosts, family secrets, and ancient rites and prophecy. Jim has moved with his father and sister Sal to Minerva Hall, a vast estate of lush gardens with more than 100 statues. It is occupied by grumpy Lord Louis Minerva III, a disagreeable man who restricts areas of the Hall and grounds and closely monitors them with closed-circuit televisions. Curious about his new home, where his father has taken a position as Head Gardener, Jim begins to explore. As he does, he meets a mysterious boy he calls Einstein, who speaks to him in riddles. The ghostly whispers and encounters with Einstein send Jim on a quest to discover the estate's secrets. He finds an old schoolroom, and listed on the board are the names of the Minerva children, each followed by "deceased." At the bottom it reads, "Follow the Statues." And as Jim uncovers clues, he is haunted by the ghosts of the children and sees the details of their deaths, and he knows that he must pursue the trail to prevent some further tragedy. Morton-Shaw skillfully weaves ancient lore into a gripping mystery. The fine plotting keeps readers turning the pages as suspense builds to the surprising end. Genre fans will likely enjoy this hunt.-Jennifer D. Montgomery, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green

Kirkus Reviews

A supernatural mystery that should please tween fans of Coraline (2002) and The Last Apprentice (2005, etc.). Jim's father has just taken a job as Head Gardener of Minerva Hall, a crumbling English manor. Jim is forbidden to roam the grounds but is compelled to root around by spectral voices that continually whisper to him, "Find the Seventh!" Through ghostly visitations and local-history pamphlets, Jim determines that a Minerva ancestor disturbed an ancient pagan site, resulting in the untimely demise of one Minerva child in each generation on the longest day of the year. Now those ghost children are asking for his help. As the summer solstice looms, can he protect the autistic son of the current Lord Minerva�the seventh possible victim of the curse? Though many of Jim's discoveries are awfully convenient, horror fans will be too be busy piecing together the fragments of the pagan prophecy to notice or care. Younger readers may be disturbed by the all-too-real details of the children's deaths, but all in all, this is a fairly age-appropriate scary read just in time for Halloween. (Horror. 11-14)

ALA Booklist
“Readers of spooky tales will enjoy this well-paced novel that delivers all the elements of a classic ghost story with a modern twist.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Hunt for the Seventh

Chapter One

We've been given some rooms all the way at the top of the south turret. They are the old embroidery rooms and the seamstresses' quarters from centuries ago. The retiring gardener showed us up some old back stairs that led from the kitchen. Then we came to a small landing with several doors leading off. One of these led to a narrow spiral staircase. We struggled up it with the suitcases.

"Always always use the back stairs," said the old gardener. "The master hates to meet up with anyone. Phew! Nearly there."

We came out into a long circular corridor with doors lining it. One by one he opened them, and we followed him into each curved room.

I've never lived in a turret before. I'll feel like a medieval knight! First, the bedrooms. The biggest one is for Dad. Mine and Sal's are crummy, small things, both leading off the living room. Sal instantly claimed the best one for herself. In my room there was nothing much except for a wonky bookshelf, filled with dusty old encyclopedias. One of them was being used to prop up one leg of a wobbly chair. The whole thing didn't look very promising. On the living room floor was a cat dish with some old tuna caked in it.

"Suki's vanished," Harold said. "Sulking, no doubt! She hates change. If she shows up, I've left my phone number on the kitchen bulletin board."

Sally looked around with her nose screwed up. "It's kind of . . . smelly!" she said. (At ten she is much too fussy about Everything.)

Next, we filed into a tiny kitchen and then a bathroom, with a dripping shower over an ancient bathtub. Then back to the chilly living room.And two tiny storerooms. Back in the curved corridor Dad sat down on a suitcase.

"It'll do," he said.

There was one door left unopened. I stared at it. "What's through there?" I asked.

Harold glanced at it briefly. "Through there? Nothing."

"How can there be nothing? It's a door!"

"It's locked," said Harold, as if that settled it. "I've never bothered with it myself."

But I didn't quite like the way he said it, as if he didn't want to be asked any awkward questions. "Well, who has the key?" I insisted.

Harold frowned down at me. "If there's one thing the master dislikes more than children, it's questions! You'll find out when you meet him later." He nodded darkly to Dad. "And you two, you'd best keep your mouths shut around him, that's for sure."

I opened my mouth again, but Dad cut me short. "That's enough, Jim!" said Dad. "Let it go now."

He looked tired. Gray. So I let it go.

But it didn't let me go.

"Find the Seventh!" a young girl's voice whispered, right at my ear.

I glanced back at the door before scuttling to catch up with Dad in the living room. I was too scared to be out here by myself, even for a few seconds.

I wasn't sure I was going to like it here at all.

It was almost bedtime by the time we were finally summoned to the master's study. The royal summons. We walked nervously through the Grand Hall, upstairs, and along the echoing corridors. The passages were lit by dim lamps or, in more remote places, just the tiny glow of emergency lights set into the ceilings.

The only sounds were the ticking of the many clocks we passed. Every so often as we walked along, I heard the faint whirring of something small, set high into the walls. This puzzled me until I glanced back and spotted the small electric red dot of a security camera as it swiveled our way.

I wondered who was watching us.

The butler met us at the top of a long flight of stairs. With an impassive face, he ushered us into a dim study and closed the doors on us. Now we were alone, just us and Lord Louis Minerva III.

He was sitting in his wheelchair in front of a huge log fire—a grumpy-looking old man with a glass of amber brandy in one hand. He gestured us to step forward into his golden halo of firelight. When he smiled at us, his eyes were cold and filled with dislike. He made me think of a lizard.

"Mr. Brown—and your delightful children! Do come in. I trust your rooms are sufficient?"

"Perfectly, thank you, sir," said Dad.

I glanced around the room. One whole wall held screen after screen, the monitors of a vast closed-circuit TV system. Each screen flickered with ghostly images of various parts of the grounds. There was the great staircase. And the calm face of the lake. And the gatehouse with its flag, floodlit, on top.

The only light came from the flickering fire and those screens flashing a cold silver from frame to frame. I began to feel as if I'd stepped into some old silent movie.

Lord Minerva gestured Sal and me to step even closer. He regarded us silently. This made both of us fidget. Eventually he gestured toward the screens.

"I don't get out much these days," he said with a tight little smile. "Nevertheless, as you can see, I am in complete control of my entire estate. I have eyes everywhere, some of them hidden. I trust I shall not have cause to regret your coming here."

He was staring more at me than at Sal. I got the impression there was something about me he didn't like at all.

"No doubt you will want to explore your new home," he said. "But may I remind you that this is my home, not yours. Your home, for now, is in the rooms at the top of the south turret. As for my home, there are only certain areas that are open to the public. The rest of Minerva Hall is roped off. You are forbidden to go beyond those boundaries. Do I make myself clear?"

The Hunt for the Seventh. Copyright © by Christine Morton-Shaw. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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