Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (The Piccadilly Street Series Book 1) by Emily -Jane Hills Orford

It’s 1967 and Mary’s family has moved into a huge Victorian mansion. She loves her gigantic new house, especially her room. But then she begins to meet the house’s other residents. Mrs. Murray was murdered in Mary’s new house. At first she tries to scare the new residents away, but there seems to be a force connecting the ghost to Mary. Even the stranded Brownies, the little people who live between the walls, feel that connection. When Mary becomes deathly ill, the Brownies and the ghost team up to try to rescue her, only to encounter a witch and her evil dragons and minions. Time is running out. They must rescue Mary from a fever-induced dream world before she is trapped there forever.

A little about Emily-Jane first:
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Emily-Jane Hills Orford is an award-winning author of several books, including “The Whistling Bishop”, “F-Stop: A Life in Pictures” and “To Be a Duke”, all of which were Finalists in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She writes about the extra-ordinary in life and her books, short stories, and articles are receiving considerable attention. For more information on the author, check out her website.  Or comment on her blog.

9-year-old Madi’s Review: 5+-Stars

I’m sorry I didn’t get to finish the book. We had company for days. I’ve been given three more days. I’ve read to chapter 8, so I’m going to review those now and finish my review in the comments.

I liked the cover. It’s really cool and describes the book kind of.

I think the book had good writing. I enjoyed it from the beginning even though it didn’t have a lot of action. I liked reading about them moving into the new house. It was funny when Mary was talking about multiplication and found out the neighbor’s husband studies and raises guppies that multiply very fast.

I felt like me and Mary are a lot alike. I would be so scared if I heard the banging and lights on and off during the night.

Mary’s bedroom sounds beautiful. when it mentions her dollhouse, I want one really bad. I want a Brownie too. I liked reading the part from Mrs. Murray’s POV, that was neat I could see life from her eyes.

Some of the names were hard to pronounce. Mrs. Murray is scary she bangs the cupboards in the kitchen and makes a racket all night.

My favorite part is where whenever Mary meets Brunnie and thinks he is a doll that can talk. That was really fun.

I give this book 10-stars so far.

I love this book and can’t wait to finish reading it.

Diane Andersen’s Review: 4-Stars

I wanted to really like this story and settled in great anticipation for an old-fashioned Gothic tale about a little girl in a large gloomy estate with a mysterious past and a restless wandering spirit for her to befriend or, perhaps, be terrorized by. The cover evoked just such a haunting, titillating image with a promise of all those things to come. However, I soon found I had not fallen into a Gothic mystery a la Catherine Sefton’s book, In a Blue Velvet Dress, or even a whimsical romantic tale like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, both which were among my childhood favorites. While Orford’s story had some elements of those beloved classics, it failed to capture the same sort of enchantment.

Much of the story about Mary, opens with far too much overwriting and continues that style chapter after chapter. Every detail and example is belabored so that I soon found skimming over large sections of text still offered the gist of what was happening without missing too much. And I am one who loves to revel in detail, but only when it serves a purpose for voice, tone and sets a proper mood. In this case, the entire book could have used another good round of editing for trimming excess verbiage and inane dialogue that did not further the plot.

The other issue I had with the story was that the title character (Mrs. Murray’s Ghost) seems to play more of a background role with Mary takes up with a family of brownies who lead her on a set of adventures and become trapped in her own dream world. Why are there no indications of this on the cover or title? Rather, Mrs. Murray seems more along for the ride and there just to serve as an inciting incident with her elusive clattering around the house. But once the story gets rolling, it is the brownies who drive the action. I actually kept forgetting about Mrs. Murray or why she even needed to be there.

There was so much potential for this story, with using words to paint a mood and setting rather than cheerily to over explain everything. Also, pairing the title and the book cover to note the actual main characters, those loveable, cantankerous brownies, Briddie, Brunnie and company. In spite of its disappointments and misleading strategies, I did find the story charming and the characters a delight. The brownies all have distinct personalities and I learned some bits about Scottish folklore and the origins of these helpful elven creatures.

Another plus, Mary is the sort of gentle, kindhearted character seldom seen in modern children’s stories these days. Yet she is no wimp and also shows a sense of bravery and strength of conviction while also adapting well to her strange new surroundings. Four stars awarded for sending me down a rabbit hole bringing to mind a few childhood classics and perhaps, to add another for another generation of children to love for a lifetime.

Please feel free to share your review in the comments.

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One thought on “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (The Piccadilly Street Series Book 1) by Emily -Jane Hills Orford

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  1. Sherry Terry’s Review: 4-Stars

    Hang onto your hats, I’m torn about this book.

    I like the cover. It has a mysterious air that makes you want to open the book for a closer look.

    We start out moving into a old castle like house with 10-year-old Mary and her family. For the most part, the book started well, although I feel there was a lot of repeating, backstory, and information dumping. Chapters thee and four pick up when we start meeting other characters in the story. By chapter six, I felt a little lost with everything happening and all the character names that are hard to pronounce. The author throws in everything but the kitchen sink before the end.

    I loved the parts of the story from Mrs. Murray. Emily-Jane Hills Orford did a great job of showing her as a ghost. However, I feel all of her backstory could have served the story better if she shared it with Mary instead of it being dumped the moment we meet her. In fact, by the end of the story we find out about a lot of her relatives. The story revolves around the Murray family. It’s all thrown into the story in the last few chapters with lots of names and how the Murray clan is special, they see the Brownies and throughout history had interactions and intrigue with the Brownies that changed history.

    Lots of plot twists and dangers to overcome. The book is full of action that felt more like it was all being thrown in to meet a quota or something. I feel this one book could be 2 books at least. Just my opinion – I feel there could be a book 1 where they move into the house. After a lot of angst on the ghost’s part Mary and Mrs. Murray’s ghost can come to terms, be more accepting and tolerant and end up friends. Book 2 could be this one, highlighting the Brownies and could open with them finally trusting Mary once they watch how she interacted with Mrs. Murray’s Ghost in book 1.

    The Brownies, little people living in the walls, are cute, and their parts of the story are done well. I felt emotionally attached to them, caring what happened. Emily-Jane did a great job giving each one a distinct personality and a great story line in the book. It was nice to read from their perspective. Grandmother, Margaret, arrives with Brownies of her own, when Mary gets sick.

    There are even history lessons, a witch, and dragons.

    I enjoyed how Emily-Jane set up the next book in this series. Fantastic cliffhanger, and I usually don’t like cliffhangers.

    Some of the paragraphs are very long and become convoluted. I feel they could be broken up into smaller paragraphs for a better flow. The writing was pretty weak, even for a children’s/young adult book. The author is having a love affair with the word *that along with weaker word choices which really slows the pace of the story and gives it an overall passive feel.

    By the time I finished Mrs. Murray’s Ghost, I didn’t really see why the title and book emphasis is on her really other than to set up how the Murray name ties into the story. I feel all of this would have been better served in a book of it’s own. I felt this book was more about the Brownies and their adventures.

    I feel with a good edit, Mrs. Murray’s Ghost would be a fantastic read.

    And none of the harsh, criticisms I gave about Mrs. Murray’s Ghost matters one bit. Why? Because my 9-year-old granddaughter, Madi (the target audience) is loving it. Goes to show what I know – nothing.

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