Monday, October 21, 2013


Title: A Spectre in the Stones
Author: John Kitchen
Publisher: Thames River Press
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Genre: Paranormal
Reviewed by: Ellen Fritz
Source: Received from Publisher for review
Ellen’s rating: 5/5


Lloyd Lewis is moving to yet another children's home, but this one is different. It seems to be cast in an unremitting, sunless winter. The staff and children are surly and aggressive, and he soon discovers why: Sarson Hall is gripped in a curse. There are poltergeists creating constant disruptions and, in the cellar, a terrifying ghost. Lloyd's survival has always depended on his fighting spirit, and he sets about confronting the mayhem surrounding him. In his quest to remove the curse, he finds he possesses a rare power, which leads him to link what is happening to a nearby ravaged stone circle. But can he do anything to remove the curse from Sarson Hall, and can he bring peace once more to the old building and its occupants?


The term, children's home, inspires a certain amount of anxiety. Add to that the words 'cursed' and 'haunted' and the prospect becomes downright depressing and thoroughly scary. These are the circumstances in which Afro-Caribbean boy, Lloyd Lewis, finds himself when he is moved to Sarson Hall.

The tone of this book, especially in the beginning, is dark and mysterious. Lloyd Lewis, the main character, is a jaded, sarcastic thirteen-year-old who seems to be always on the defensive. Sarson Hall, with its dire atmosphere and extremely aggressive kids, appears to be the kind of place that would intensify Lloyd's attitude. Instead this serves to inspire him to find answers, because he always feels:
"It’s got to be something that I can get my head around."

A Spectre in the Stones contains some of the very best crafted characters I have ever encountered. The sarcastic, surly Lloyd, who seems bent on his own destruction, is compelled by circumstances to change for the better. Then there is the extremely disturbed Caitlin, as well as Rudi, the ever diplomatic Indian boy; all of them unique, fleshed out and well defined.

Set in Britain, this book is so typically British. From the stiff upperlipped librarian and the strict children's home carers, to the modern professor; this is a masterful portrayal of certain types of British people. The story is full of suspense and some realistic, if thoroughly heartbreaking moments.

Look, Rudi, mate,” he said. “We got to face up to this. They’re nice people, okay? But that’s all. The professor’s up for this ghost thing back at the home, and that’s great. And they want to give us a good time, right? But by Monday, we’ll be out of their heads. We’re kids that haven’t got no family, and that isn’t going to change. It’s no good you thinking about parents and brothers and sisters and all that stuff. That’s got to be dead stupid, because, you start thinking that, you start getting your hopes up and then, these people have gone – they’re out of our lives, and you got kicked in the teeth. And there isn’t going to be no one around to pick up the pieces neither. That’ll be down to you, so don’t go there. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there. I got the T-shirt.

Although this is paranormal fiction, it deals with known phenomena which makes it so much more believable. A very slight touch of romance brings a gentleness to a story in which the characters are hard realists that do not believe in the gentler side of life. I highly recommend this book and happily give it a five-star rating.



John Kitchen was born and grew up in Cornwall.

After graduating from London University with one of the first Bachelor of Education degrees, he went back to Cornwall to teach, but after four years he moved ‘up-country’. The main part of his teaching career after that was spent ion Oxfordshire, where he still lives.

He retired from teaching in 2001 to devote himself to writing for young people. His first book, Nicola’s Ghost won the ‘New Generation Publishing Award’ and winner of the ‘Writer’s Digest best self-published Young Adult Novel 2001’

His second Novel, A Spectre in the Stones is published by Thames River Press.

John is widowed with a daughter and a son, and four grandchildren.

He lives in a three hundred year old Cotswold cottage where he writes every day in his very cheerful bright yellow study.

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