The Secret of Hawthorne House by Donald Firesmith The Secret of Hawthorne House turned out to be just the book I needed. I have been reading a lot of Urban Fantasy and Dark existential books so I needed something light, spooky and yet a story that is soulful for a change. TSoHH did good on that account. The book did creep me out at times because who mentions scary murder story to a stranger on a school bus? But then again, I let many instances skip because middle school kids and their curiosities are something I am familiar with. I really liked Matt’s character because he is like any other average kid that does not have any biases and is not easily influenced by rumours. I appreciate these kinds of characters because they really teach good values. But that won’t change the fact that his life was really hellish. Losing his mother, being bullied and then on the constant verge of confusion regarding the secret of the Hawthorne house? Poor kid. Moving to a place to forget the memories, father’s dwindling finances, being the new kid and the only friend being a strange boy whose friendship gets you bullied more? Poor kid. “That’s what happens to people who side with a Hawthorne,” Colin hissed in Matt’s ear. The worse I felt for Matt, the more I enjoyed the story though. Because the writing is just that good and meant to keep a reader engaged. That is something I love about most middle-grade books. Kids don’t usually have a good attention span so unless the writing is alluring, the attention wavers off. That didn’t happen with this book. I read half the book in one go, flipping pages, enjoying the contradictory behaviours of Matt and his twin Tina, seeing Matt develop a sort of friendship with the mystery kid next door Gerralt. The plot of the book is also exciting if not unique. But I enjoyed the added mysticism of Wiccan beliefs and magic. One thing I thought was that at the beginning of the book, the chapters seemed to be rushing in giving information, regarding the characters, the place and it was more telling the story than narrating it. After a couple of chapters, though, the narration smoothened out. As we got to know more about the Hawthorne House, its history and Matt & Gerralt developed a bond of friendship, the flow of the book settled down. Without spoiling the actual mystery, I would just say that the book is good enough to be read until the end. It is equal parts spooky and equally heart-warming; quite an easy read.