Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

A Review of Eldritch Manor by Kim Thompson

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Eldritch Manor - Kim Thompson published by Dundurn Press

Eldritch Manor by Kim Thompson, and published by Dundurn Press, has a rather unassuming cover, plain yellow with a black ink picture of a fairy that could have easily come out of any sixties Field Guide to Fairies book. And I know, because I own one. The thing is, that’s what intrigued me. Given the cover, I thought the treatment of fairies and other mythical creatures would be true and accurate. I was right.

This book is about Willa. Willa’s summer isn’t going so well. Her grandfather’s isn’t either, which is why she’s stuck in town trying to find summer employment while her friends go to fun camps and on exciting holidays. It’s during one of these failed job attempts that she finds herself at Eldritch Manor, a grand house that doubles as a retirement home. There are strange things going on there and Willa becomes curious. So curious in fact that she gets a job there as a house keeper, after accidentally frightening off a brownie. And no – not the Girl Guide cookie selling kind. A real, true, fairy kind. This is when things get really interesting.

Thompson kept both me and my daughter guessing about which elderly folks were which mythical creatures. The connection between two was fairly obvious from the beginning, but that’s what made it fun. For instance we thought the head of the house, Miss Trang, was Medusa. We were wrong – the truth is way cooler. We knew one of them had to be a cat. That was discovered when Willa invites her parents over to the manor for a “normal” supper while attempting to gain permission to sleep over during some rather dire circumstances. Her mom brings a cat nip toy. The “normal” supper becomes much less so as a result. The climactic battle between good and evil had me flipping pages like mad and the larger puzzle of Willa’s grandfather and his connection to all this, had me pondering.

The only disappointment for me was the rushed ending. It was left a little too open and quick. I would have liked it to be explained a bit better. I mean the house gets kind of crushed at one point, so what happens to the now homeless residents? Still, this was an awesome read — when I was finally able to read it. My twelve-year-old daughter snatched the book away after reading the first chapter over my shoulder. I didn’t see it again for a while.

So if you have a fantasy lover, put a little Eldritch Manor in their stocking this Christmas, and when they are done reading have a crack at it yourself.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Kim Firmston

Kim Firmston is a writer and creative writing instructor in Calgary. Her teen novels Schizo and Hook Up were Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Bet Selections. Her short story "Life Before War" was shortlisted for the 2008 CBC Literary Awards. Her most recent novel for teens is Touch, about a teenage hacker with a troubled family life.

Go to Kim Firmston’s Author Page