A prisoner in her own mansion

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 June, 2012, 12:00am


The Haunting of Charity Delafield
By Ian Beck
Published by The Bodley Head
ISBN 978 0370 332109

Charity Delafield is lonely. She's almost 13, yet knows nothing about what goes on in the world.

She is locked up in the vast mansion where she lives with her father. She's even banned from exploring her home. Her father is strict and over-protective. He has ordered the servants never to let her go into the mansion's west wing. All the pampered prisoner has for company is Mr Tompkins, her faithful black cat.

Her father has told Charity that she suffers from a serious medical condition and must not mix with outsiders. Charity often wonders what her 'condition' is, because she feels perfectly well.

She is haunted by a strange dream about a long corridor and messages that she does not understand. Things start to simmer when Charity meets a mysterious old woman at the gate leading out of the mansion.

The old woman tells Charity that she does not know the truth about her background. What is her father keeping from her? Charity decides to find out.

The action in the novel takes place within the mansion and its grounds. Author Ian Beck builds up an unsettling Gothic atmosphere packed with suspense. What is more mysterious than a vast spooky house with secrets?

The book's setting is perfect for the story Beck is telling: an elegant mystery aimed at teens.