It’s the summer of 1914 (so I’m already predisposed to read this book) when Fran’s life takes a spooky turn. It starts when she hits and breaks a bone buried in the grounds of Longbarrow House where her father is the head gardener. Then later that day, one of the grandchildren of the owner breaks his leg. More accurately, his sister breaks it when she wallops him with a cricket bat!

Leo and his twin siblings are not the greatest of friends so Fran is roped in to be company for him and push him around in his wheelchair. Thus, she is treated to his thoughts on the political situation in Europe. The Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz-Ferdinand and his wife have recently been assassinated and Leo is sure that a European war is on the way – views no-one wants to listen to.

At the same time Fran has been finding things in the garden that seem to be presaging a series of events. Can this possibly be true or is it all mere co-incidence? Fran is not sure. Leo has his own ideas.

This short novel is published by Barrington Stoke with all the attention to detail you would expect from them. It’s suitable for anyone with a reading age of eight and in my opinion there’s nothing that makes it unsuitable for any child capable of reading it. It’s a bit spooky but not frightening. Emma Carroll is an excellent writer and her prose doesn’t feel at all constrained by its limited length. And it is beautifully illustrated by Kaja Kajfez.

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