Ghosts and crime for middle grade readers by Finland’s rising crime queen.
Author: Eva Frantz
Swedish original: Hallonbacken
Publisher: Schildts & Söderströms, 2018
Genre: middle-grade suspense/horror
Number of pages: 150 pp.
Reading material: Swedish original, English sample (to come
Raspberry Hill is a sanatorium in the middle of the healing countryside, and it is where city dwellers with lung diseases end up. Many of the child patients treated there are from poor families – like Stina. She’s lived on Seaman Street in southern Helsinki in a small room with her five siblings and the mother since the father has died in the war, and now she is very sick.
The sanatorium feels like a castle to Stina. It is vast and full of long corridors and echoes. It is also a very lonely place, until Stina one day meets Ruben. The boy starts turning up when they should be sleeping, taking her to nightly expeditions in forbidden places of the building – like the eastern wing that has recently burned down.
Little by little Stina starts to realize that everything is not quite right in the sanatorium. Why isn’t her mother writing back to her? Why do the nurses seem so afraid? What really happened in the fire? And what is Ruben trying to warn her about?
Raspberry Hill is crime author Eva Frantz’s first children’s book – a suspenseful horror story for middle grade readers. It starts a series of stand-alone horror novels set in early 20th century that take the young readers also on a journey back in time. The book has been nominated for Runeberg Junior Prize.
“Eva Frantz’s book has all the right elements that a pageturner for the avid young readership should have: a proper suspension plot and supernatural bends.”
– Hufvudstadsbladet newspaper
“A perfect autumn read for the courageous ones who are not afraid of ghosts or other mysterious characters.”
– Yle Internytt
“Frantz’s description of how the ordinary things distort and turn into something totally else in Stina’s imagination is credible. Raspberry Hill is not the only big building with intriguing spots where children end up having adventures. In addition to Hogwarts eg. the mysterious houses and castle ruins that the children in Enid Blyton’s novels explored come to mind. And thinking even more thematically, there is something from even Astrid Lindgren’s sick, orphan or generally lonely children who end up in breathtaking adventures. Thus, Frantz relies on classic ingredients but does it with a style and suspense that hold the reader tightly in their grip till the last pages.”
– Västra Nyland newspaper
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