The Ghost Show – reviews

Reviews for The Ghost Show

From Cumberland News November 2014

By Lucy Lavall

Review Highlights ‘… a gripping tale’ … Henry’s ingenuity, loyalty and honesty see him tackle a series of trials and tribulations, all graphically portrayed, through to another satisfying conclusion.’ ‘ So vivid and compelling is the tale-telling that the young reader will come away from The Ghost Show unaware that he or she has had a significant history lesson.’

Cumberland News – November 2014
The Ghost Show – By Irvine Hunt

Remember Henry Hodgekin? He was the young Solway hero of a gruelling trek from the docks of Silloth, driving 600 geese along the back roads to market in Carlisle in Irvine Hunt’s acclaimed The Drover’s Boy. Well now Henry’s back, a little older and fair bit wiser, about to embark on another action-packed adventure. This time he’s taken on as a general handyman by Biddall’s travelling Ghost Show – a much loved (and feared!) feature of the old town fairs in Carlisle, Cockermouth, Workington, Whitehaven and Cleator Moor. Once again Henry’s ingenuity, loyalty and honesty see him tackle a series of trials and tribulations, all graphically portrayed, through to another satisfying conclusion. …..The Ghost Show is peopled with warm and colourful characters (although tGhost-show-posterRGBhere are plenty of the other sort lurking in the shadows) and it details many aspects of late 19th Century rural and urban Cumbria. So vivid and compelling is the tale-telling that the young reader will come away from The Ghost Show unaware that he or she has had a significant history lesson. Cumbrian junior schools would do well to have this book on their library shelves and read it aloud in class. There are striking differences between our own comfortable, bright, warm techno-rich world and the grim days before the combustion engine, electricity, piped water and metalled roads. But most of all, it tells readers a gripping tale and will leave them keen for another instalment in the life of young Henry Hodgekin.

Lucilla Laval The Cumberland News

The Keswick Reminder – 29th November 2014

By Joyce Wilson

‘…. this story (is) suitable for children over eight, but I think it will be thoroughly enjoyed by adults who live and have a heritage in Cumberland. Another good book for your Christmas list! The Ghost Show – By Irvine Hunt Published by Handstand Press Around the year 1900 George Biddall’s GHOST SHOW was one of the most popular travelling shows touring the North and Cumberland. For some sixty years its ghostly wails haunted the fairgrounds, attracting fascinated crowds, particularly at the spring and autumn hirings. The poorer Cumbrian people had a real affection for the Biddall family, particularly George. He was a generous spirited man and greatly liked, giving amongst others , free shows to workhouse inmates. In the fairground world he was held in high esteem and regarded by many as one of the fines men to travel the roads. There is a remarkable photo of George marching along the road with his horses and wagons in the last chapter. Irvine Hunt has also included a rare photograph of fairground crowds gathering at The Sands in Carlisle in about the same year. Imagine the excitement mixed with not a little trepidation experienced by the simple, superstitious country folk who flocked to the towns to enjoy a good fright! Irvine carries his tale forward by creating two fictitious characters, Henry and ‘Snivel’ who meet up as they are both travelling by bike to find work at the hirings. They decide to go to Carlisle where there is to be a hiring fair the next week. I will not spoil the story by going into detail, but sufficient to say that the two lads help out with the Ghost Show and the hirings are forgotten! The show visits towns we all know such at Workington, Whitehaven and Cleator Moor. There is also a parallel story of his friend Jenny, a servant girl from Keswick. She has similar ‘adventures’ when she is hired to work on a farm overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake. She leaves and later, by chance, she meets up with the travelling Ghost Show. This story is the sequel to Irvine Hunt’s earlier novel ‘The Drover’s Boy’. The publishers recommend this story as suitable for children over eight, but I think it will be thoroughly enjoyed by adults who live and have a heritage in Cumberland. Another good book for your Christmas list! Joyce Wilson The Keswick Reminder Westmorland Gazette – December 2014 Allan Tunningley ‘The Ghost Show evokes a long-lost era when the arrival of a travelling fair was often a highlight of community life.’


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