Eleven-year-old Jon Whitcroft is being sent to the Salisbury Cathedral Choir School where his late father once went. He’d convinced that this is because his mother doesn’t want him around. She has a new man, whom Jon disparagingly calls ‘The Beard’, and she’s going on holiday with him to Spain. Jon will only be in the way. He’s miserable, he hates ‘The Beard’, he’s homesick – and furious.
And his problems escalate. The first night, he wakes up, looks out of the dormitory window and sees three ghostly figures on horseback staring up at him. They are the ghostly retainers of Lord Stourton. He learns that one of his Harthill ancestors (his mother was a Harthill) was murdered by Lord Stourton, who was hanged for his crimes. The ghost of Lord Stourton is now out for revenge on all Harthills, and Jon is his next victim.
Jon is terrified. But then he meets Ella, a feisty girl whose grandmother does ghost tours of the cathedral. Ella tells Jon to meet her in the cathedral that night and to seek the help of William Longspée, a bastard son of King Henry II, whose tomb is there. Longspée is doomed to walk until his heart, stolen from him by Stourton, is buried with that of his beloved wife, Ela. Can Longspée help Jon, and can Jon and Ella discover where Longspée missing heart is?
I loved this book. It’s exciting, funny (I love all the toads in Ella’s grandmother’s house), and emotionally truthful about Jon’s jealousy of ‘the Beard’ and his bitter feeling of being supplanted in his mother’s affection. When ‘the Beard’ appears and wants to help, will Jon ever learn to trust him, let alone like him?
Highly recommended for boys and girls of 10 plus.