Yelchin, Eugene. The Haunting of Falcon House. Henry Holt/Macmillan 2016 310p $15.99 ISBN 978-0-8050-9845-7 elem/ms Fantasy VG-BN
In this tale-within-a-tale, Lev, a young Russian nobleman of the early 20th century, aged about twelve, is sent to live with his eccentric aunt in St. Petersburg, where he encounters the ghost of a servant boy who served his grandfather. Only by breaking a curse put on the ghostly serf can Lev resolve the story’s mystery, finish a drawing he had started with his mother, and release the ghost from its misery. The story brings to mind some classics of Russian literature, such as the stories of Gogol and Tolstoy, with its descriptions of Tsarist Russian life and its wry humor. The characters are interesting and quaint, the sentences old-fashioned and eloquent, and the plot twisted and fanciful. The author sprinkles his own wonderful drawings throughout, giving them the look of old documents that have been slightly damaged by age. In the back, there are footnotes pertaining to Russian history which will be helpful to the young readers who get into the novel. The novel, like Yelchin’s previous work, will appeal to readers who are intellectually open to immersing themselves in Russian culture. Recommended for upper-elementary and middle-school students who are into multicultural stories and fantasy.
Summary: A young nobleman in Tsarist Russia is sent to live with his aunt in an old gothic mansion, where he encounters ghosts and learns about his family’s secrets from the past.