The Bagpiper's Ghost (Tartan Magic Series #3)

The Bagpiper's Ghost (Tartan Magic Series #3)

by Jane Yolen

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On a midnight visit to a Scottish cemetery, Peter and Jennifer get caught up in a drama three hundred years dead--a tale of two star-crossed lovers and the man who betrayed them. Their bitter ghosts still haunt the graveyard, too angry to leave the world of the living . . . but all too willing to drag Peter and Jennifer into the world of the dead.
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On a midnight visit to a Scottish cemetery, Peter and Jennifer get caught up in a drama three hundred years dead--a tale of two star-crossed lovers and the man who betrayed them. Their bitter ghosts still haunt the graveyard, too angry to leave the world of the living . . . but all too willing to drag Peter and Jennifer into the world of the dead.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Delightful."--Science Fiction Chronicle

"[This] story stands alone, and is rich enough in ghosts and magic to please readers of Susan Cooper's Boggart tales, or younger Betty Ren Wright fans."--Kirkus Reviews

"Fantasy aficionados . . . will enjoy Jennifer and Peter's latest magical escapade . . . a worthy addition."--VOYA

Publishers Weekly
In Jane Yolen's The Bagpiper's Ghost, book three in the Tartan Magic series, a trip to a Scottish cemetery entangles American twins Jennifer and Peter in the afterlife feud of former lovers. ( Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
While visiting their grandparents in Scotland, twins Peter and Jennifer discover that magic is all around them. It is in their Gran who is a white witch, and a Scottish-speaking dog that communicates with them. While out with the dog one day, they learn that the ruins of Fairburn Castle are haunted by a woman in white. The sound of bagpipes adds to the mystery. When they decide to visit the graveyard at night, Peter becomes possessed by Andrew, the ghostly twin brother of Mary MacFadden, the lady in white. Jennifer, Gran and the dog must determine the problem and free Peter quickly. Yolen obviously is well-acquainted with the Scottish countryside and its folklore. The story moves along quickly and is paced appropriately for the age group. There is a Scottish glossary in the back, which will help readers "translate" the words used by the dog, but some readers may find this distracting. This is the third book in the "Tartan Magic" series. It can stand alone, although references to Michael Scot and events in the previous books may be a bit puzzling. Of course it could also lead the reader to the other books. Thirteen-year-old Peter and Jennifer are likable but not fully developed characters. It is the action¾the race against time, resolving the issue between Mary and Andrew, and the battle against the ghost to free Peter¾that keeps the story moving. 2002, Harcourt,
— Sharon Salluzzo
In book three of the Tartan Magic series, American twins Peter and Jennifer are entangled in another adventure while visiting relatives in Scotland. The siblings are lured to the village cemetery in search of a spectral Lady in White. When she rises from her grave at midnight, they are pinioned between the apparition and an eighteenth-century, tartan-clad ghost skirling a tune on ancient bagpipes. While the piper plays his melody, the spirit of Andrew MacFadden possesses Peter. As Jennifer and her Gran struggle to save Peter's life, the mystery of the bagpiper's ghost unravels. Separated in life by the conniving Andrew, the Lady in White and her true love, the bagpiper Ewan McGregor, have returned to the cemetery to find the lost token of their love. Comparable in style to her Pit Dragon Trilogy, the books in Yolen's Tartan Magic series blend humor with adventure and suspense. This installment provides readers with a satisfying plot—one that is more believable than those contrived in the series' previous titles, The Wizard's Map (Harcourt, 1999/VOYA December 1999) and The Pictish Child (1999/VOYA February 2000). Yolen creates an almost musical dialogue with Scottish vocabulary that perfectly evokes her setting and characters while a glossary provides definitions for those who might find bairns, bawties, and besom challenging terms. Yolen fans and fantasy aficionados who have read the first two books in this series will enjoy Jennifer and Peter's latest magical escapade, and librarians will find it a worthy addition to their middle-level fantasy collections. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6to 8). 2002, Harcourt, 144p,
— Sherry Korthalls
In this third installment in Yolen's Tartan Magic series, thirteen-year-old twins Jennifer and Peter are lured by a magical dog to a cemetery to see the Lady in White. The dog speaks in a Scottish brogue and provides much of the comic relief in the novel. When the ghost of Mary McFadden appears, she points a long, white finger at the twins, screaming with "anger, fear, loathing, horror...and longing." Jennifer decides to help Mary fulfill her purpose here on earth, which soon appears in the ghost of bagpiper Iain McGregor. Mary thinks that now they can finally be together, but the cold iron fence that separates them is harmful to magical creatures. Meanwhile, the spirit of Mary's twin brother possesses Peter's body. Peter-as-Andrew admits lying to Mary about Iain's death to prevent the marriage of his sister to a man of lower standing. Before there can be any resolution, the sun rises, and the ghosts disappear, but Andrew is still trapped inside Peter. If Jennifer can't rid Peter of Andrew's spirit soon, Peter will be lost forever. While the story will appeal to reluctant readers, the Scottish dialect is complex enough to warrant a glossary at the end of the book. Students who read the other books in the series will better understand the allusions to events and characters from The Wizard's Map and The Pictish Child. 2002, Harcourt, 125 pp.,
— Cindi Carey
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-This story, set soon after the events of The Pictish Child (Harcourt, 1999), finds Peter and Jennifer embroiled in another magical mess on their Scottish vacation. When the twins visit a graveyard hoping to see the ghost of Mary MacFadden, Peter is possessed by the unhappy spirit of her twin brother, Andrew. Jennifer and her Gran, a white witch, know that they have only one day to get the spirit to leave Peter's body or it will take him over forever. In life, Andrew plotted to keep Mary from marrying Ewan McGregor, and Mary pined away to her grave. The theme of Andrew's ghost needing forgiveness is echoed in the relationship between Peter and Jennifer, who have had a fractious relationship since they turned 13. The three ghosts; Peter, Jennifer, and Gran; and a magical horse and dog have a showdown in the graveyard, where of course everything is put right and the spirits of Ewan and Mary are together at last. The story is slight and the characters are two-dimensional. Granted, the action takes place within about 24 hours, but that leaves little time for the author to develop characters and setting. The Scottish dialect is wonderfully authentic, but could be difficult for most children. The glossary is helpful, but it doesn't include a phonetic pronunciation guide. Fans of this type of story will probably enjoy Mollie Hunter's novels or Susan Cooper's The Boggart (McElderry, 1993) more.-Cheri Estes, Detroit Country Day Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Third entry in the "Tartan Magic" series (behind Wizard's Map and The Pictish Child, both 1999), this carries vacationing American twins Peter and Jennifer into a Scottish graveyard for encounters with not one ghost, but three. Having acquired a talking dog and a talking horse to go with their witch Gran in previous adventures, the two teenagers are terrified but not surprised when spectral Mary MacFadden rises up from her tomb one midnight, sobbing for her sweetheart Ewan. He, though killed at Culloden, still stands outside the cemetery's iron gate, piping mournfully. The plot thickens when Peter is suddenly possessed by the raving spirit of Mary's twin brother Andrew, still obsessed after two and a half centuries with keeping the lovers apart. Yolen strews the dialogue with thick dialect and makes a clumsy but well-intentioned effort to lighten the tone by having Peter and the garrulous canine bicker incessantly. After giving Gran a chance to fill in some historical and magical background, she expertly brings all the players together for a climactic confrontation that allows Jennifer to exercise her nascent magical talents. Despite frequent references to earlier episodes, the story stands alone, and is rich enough in ghosts and magic to please readers of Susan Cooper's Boggart tales, or younger Betty Ren Wright fans. (glossary) (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Tartan Magic Series, #3
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.33(d)
640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt



I don't believe it!" Peter cried. His body showed his astonishment even more than his face, for his arms and hands were raised, and his feet did a noisy jig under the kitchen table. It was the most animated he'd been in days, even though he was clearly putting it on.

Spoon half lifted, Jennifer looked up from her porridge and stared at her twin. "You don't believe what?" Given that they had already had days of magic, it wasn't an idle question.

"Sun," Peter said, pointing out the window. "And no clouds, not even a hint. Must be my doing. I-Peter the Great." He waved his right hand as if he were royalty, something he'd just started that morning.

"I can believe sun," said little Molly, nodding so hard her little dark curls bobbed like Slinky toys. "It's easy. Sun, sun, you've just begun. See?" Molly was in love with rhymes and repetition just now.

Peter turned on her. "Not in Scotland, it isn't easy," he told her. "Our sixth day on vacation here, and it's the first without a cloud in the sky. So I don't believe it. No-I take that back. It's beyond belief."

Jennifer shook her head. Sometimes Peter's sarcasm was over the top. Especially since they'd turned thirteen. It seemed impossible for one twin to hate the other, but lately Jennifer found Peter exasperating. Like the royal hand-wave thing. Exasperating. That was one of her mother's words, but useful.

"Nothing's beyond belief in Scotland," she reminded him, "now that we've found magic."

"We haven't found magic," Peter said. "There aren't bits of magic lying around that we just stumble over. No, wait a minute. I'm wrong. You just find magic, but it seems to avoid me. Maybe I have M.O." He glared at Jennifer, which made her feel uncomfortable.

"What's M.O., Peter?" asked Molly.

Jennifer was glad Molly had asked, because there was no way she herself was getting suckered into Peter's bad mood. Not with the sun shining and all.

He lifted his arm and shoved his pit toward his little sister. "Magic odor. Like B.O., only worse. Smelly as well as repellent. Magic stays away from me."

Gran's white cat walked through the room and stopped to stare at Peter's uplifted arm.

Peter stared back and gave the cat the royal wave.

Jennifer sighed. "It's not like I'm looking for magic," she said. "Not like someone is leaving it on the ground..."

"My Pict stone was on the ground," said Molly, remembering their last adventure. She spoke with the flat-footed assurance of a four-year-old. "And it was magic."

"It called magic," Peter said, determined not to be outwitted by his baby sister. "It wasn't magic on its own. And Jennifer got to do all the cool stuff while we were out cold."

"Peter, why are you so determined to be a pain?" Jennifer asked.

"Pain in the rain. Pain in the rain," sang Molly.

She's exasperating, too, thought Jennifer. She watched as the cat gave them all a disgusted look and went through the cat door and out into the garden.

"But that's just what I was saying. It's not raining!" Peter declared. "So you are all wrong, as usual, and I-Peter the Great-am not." This time he waved his arm grandly.

There was a roundness to his conversation. A great circle with no end. Jennifer recognized it just in time and bailed out.

"I'm going downtown," she said. "After breakfast. To Fairburn Castle."

"Me, too," Peter said.

"Me, three," added Molly.

"Mom!" Jennifer and Peter cried out together, their voices eerily similar. Mom, who had been reading a magazine in the other room, came in.

"We want to go for a walk," Jennifer said.

"Without the kid," Peter added.

"Jennifer and Peter want some twin time," Mom said to Molly. She opened her arms wide. "Besides, I need some Molly time, myself. After all, I scarcely saw you at all yesterday. And I missed you dreadfully."

"You mostly missed the excitement," said Molly. "And the magic. You went to Edinburgh. Without me. Me, me, me, and Mommy makes three."

"Two," Jennifer and Peter said together, but Molly ignored them, preferring her rhyme to reason. Or at least to math.

"That I did," said Mom. "Better tell me again."

"You missed the Pictish girl and the tallyman and the..."

As Molly began the whole story, interspersing rhymed words in the telling, Jennifer and Peter slipped out of the kitchen.


In the living room, Jennifer turned on her brother. "I don't need twin time, and I don't want you with me," she said. "You're in a foul mood and you're determined to ruin my day, too."

"But I'm in a good mood, Jen," Peter protested. "I am Goodness in person."

"No, you're not, Peter the Great." Jennifer put her hands on her hips. "You don't even sound like you anymore. So even if we go out the front door together, we are going to split up at the corner of Double Dykes Road." The tone of her voice gave him no room to argue.

She immediately felt bad about coming down so hard on him. After all, before they'd become teens, they'd done everything together. But now it was boy stuff and girl stuff, Peter stuff and Jennifer stuff. She wasn't entirely used to it and didn't entirely like it. The best thing about twins was being a single unit. Forever. But with Peter acting so awful...

"Nah-I'm sticking with you, kid," he said. "You seem to get in the thick of things here, and I wouldn't want to miss any of it. This time."

Jennifer wasn't sure he meant that admiringly. Lately it had been getting harder and harder to tell what Peter meant.

"Oh-all right," Jennifer said grudgingly. "But only if you lighten up."

"I will be lightness entire," Peter replied. "As light as-this sunny day!"

"There you go again," she told him.

He grinned at her, his old familiar grin, and suddenly all her anger disappeared.

Maybe, she thought, I'm overreacting. Maybe Peter isn't moving away from me. Maybe I'm the one who is the problem.

Just then a slim dog the color of ash pushed between them.

"Yer nae leavin' me behind. A day like this, the sun oot and all. That garden's nae big enough fer me. I want to spend the forenoon going my dinger."

Peter looked down at him. "'Going your dinger'? And what's that when it's in English?"

"I'll give thee English, laddie! Yer American language is nae English. And I am nae English, either. A Scot's a Scot fer a' that! 'Going yer dinger' simply means to go oot and aboot with vigor, ye young daftie."

Peter looked at Jennifer and shrugged. "Maybe we should all go our dinger!" He laughed. "And stumble over some magic while we're at it."

"Och, nae learned ought yet?" asked the dog, lying down and crossing his paws. "Dinna ye call for magic. It'll nae be pleased wi' the summons."

"Which," Jennifer pointed out, "is just what Gran would say if she were here." Gran wasn't Mom's real mother or grandmother. She and her husband were actually some older cousins who had helped raise Mom after her own parents had died in a car crash.

"And where is Gran?" Peter asked, attaching the dog's leash to the collar.

"The auld carlin is awa," said the dog. "Gone to Edinburgh, the auld gray toon. Something about a capped tooth."

"Or a gapped tooth," Peter said, winking at his sister. "Our gran being a witch, after all."

"White witch," Jennifer and the dog said together.

"Whatever." He shrugged, the smile gone from his face, and lifted the latch to the front door.

Jennifer's uneasiness returned, seeming to cloud what would otherwise have been a lovely day.

Copyright © 2002 by Jane Yolen
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Meet the Author

JANE YOLEN has written more than two hundred books for children and adults. Among her critically acclaimed novels are Wizard's Hall, The Devil's Arithmetic, and Sword of the Rightful King. She has won the World Fantasy Award, the Kerlan Award, and several of the highest awards in children's literature. She lives in western Massachusetts and Scotland.

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