The Old Willis Place

The Old Willis Place

It's a new house and a new world for Lissa as she and her father move into a trailer on the grounds of the old Willis place. How fortunate that there are other children nearby to play with. But where do Diana and Georgie live? All of the children are struggling, and the suspense builds until the moment when Lissa learns the awful truth ....

Recommended by: Barb Langridge,

216 pages 978-0618897414 Ages 11-13

Keywords: mystery, new house, father/daughter, friends, ghost story, secrets, supernatural, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old


From master storyteller Mary Downing Hahn, a chilling ghost story rich in secrets and surprises, in the tradition of her most successful spine-tingling novels.

Mary Downing Hahn weaves a tale of two children who live near a decaying Victorian mansion, bound to the place by a mysterious set of rules. Only by connecting with the new girl who moves into the old Willis place can Diana and little brother George be free—but making contact with this girl would be a violation of the rules. The pursuit of friendship is at the heart of this haunting novel, and brilliant plot twists make The Old Willis Place an irresistible page turner.---from the publisher

User reviews

1 review
Okay, now I feel slightly guilty for giving it just one star. But honestly? I didn't like it.

Maybe it's just not the genre for me, but this book is supremely creepy. I was maybe eleven or twelve when I first read it, and while it didn't give me nightmares (I never get nightmares from books, ever), it did give me a hard time going to sleep for a while. I listened to this new CD I had just got every night (coincidentally, I hadn't planned that - it was my listening to music at bedtime stage), and then it got to the point that every time I heard a song from that album I started thinking about this creepy story. Pity, because it was a great album. Ah, well . . .

Anyway, you can read tons of recaps of this book online, on Amazon, etc. What I'm going to tell you is no, this is not a "safe" thriller. People say this is the border, or for tweens, whatever. I say that I have read the Hunger Games, Harry Potter (not that that's very violent, I guess), and tons more I can't think of right now, but this book gave me the heeby-jeebies more than almost any other book. More than physical violence, I think, mental or phsycological pain is the truly traumatizing stuff. I'm not a wimp by any means, but this book did make me stop more than almost any other. I'm fine with ghost stories, whatever. But the idea (slight spoiler) that someone could be murdered by mistake, and the other person not even care, was truly hard for me. It isn't really mentioned what it was like when a certain character died, but I can only imagine how horrible a long, slow death must be . . .

Ick, getting the shivers again. I'm sure if I'd read it as an older teen I probably wouldn't have been near as startled by it, but don't give this to your tweens. If they want a book by this author, give them The Doll in the Garden. That's a taste of her writing in a reasonable helping, which I read long before The Old Willis Place (I was maybe seven), and enjoyed - ghost story and all.
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