Review Blog

Feb 12 2018

The endsister by Penni Russon

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781741750652
(Age: middle school) Highly recommended. Themes: Supernatural. London. Family. Sisters. Humour. Endsisters, sixteen year old Else and four year old Sibbi relate the story of their family's move to a house in London after a great aunt died and left the property to her only living relative, their father, Dave, an ex-lawyer trying to live off the land in Australia.
Between their sections, other chapters relate the events from the perspective of the three male siblings, Oscar, Finn and Clancy, making an engrossing tale of this family and its relationship with the ghosts.
Outhwaite House is home to two resident ghosts, Almost Annie and Hardly Alice, so old that they cannot remember why they are there, but watch with interest the changes that occur in the world around them.
Into their world come the five siblings, each with their own characteristics, the twins unhappy, Sibbi throwing tantrums, Else deliberately leaving her violin at home in Australia, Clancy harbouring fears of bullying. But Sibbi seems to be foundering, Mum, Olly cannot go outside, Dave becomes more interested in the legal work he is doing, and Clancy develops a friendship with the girl next door. Else meets a violin maker and learns to love her music once again, and it is this catalyst which finally cements the family, allowing them to open up and be honest, to make decisions as a group. A close family, their equilibrium is upset by the ambience of this new house.
Gently spooky, the tale's two ghosts want the best for the children in the house, listening to the arguments between them all, feeling saddened by their unhappiness. The music brings back their memories, so like the family, they can resolve issues from the past and better make decisions about their futures.
Russon is the author of a group of books I really enjoyed, The Undine series, and I am pleased to see another book from this author. Her writing is spectacular, and the themes involving the supernatural, subtle and moving. No blood lust, no vampires, ghouls or monsters, just two gentle old ladies who are a little transparent, hovering just out of anyone's sight, but disturbed as is the family of what may lie behind the locked attic door.
Russon's descriptions of the house and environs in London are infused with reality, sparking an enthusiasm for the city which is effervescent.
Fran Knight

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