Late 1800s: Orphaned Emily has lived twelve years at Evanshire’s Home for Neglected Girls, her only friend the dog Archie, whom she has raised from a pup. When couples come seeking a daughter to adopt, Emily is used to being passed over in favor of the pretty girls—those with soft curls and big blue eyes. However, when Mr. and Mrs. Thornton choose Emily they even allow her to take Archie with her on the journey to Blackthorn Manor, her new home.
Emily settles into her new life, but her situation proves not as ideal as it seemed at first glance. Despite Emily’s desire to please her new parents, she constantly upsets them. Her newfound friend, Kat, constantly leads Emily into trouble. And mysterious things happen at Blackthorn Manor, unexplainable things. Will Emily ever feel loved and at home with her new family? And will she be safe there?
This book reads easily and appears well suited to its stated audience of eight- to twelve-year-olds. Although somewhat creepy and atmospheric, the writing did not fully draw me in. The story is, I believe, set in Victorian Britain, but it could just as easily have been in Kansas City or Cleveland. I didn’t get as clear a sense of the era and the setting as I would have liked. However, children looking for ghost stories with strange happenings in an old, mysterious mansion will no doubt enjoy this read.