Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

Challenge 27 – “A book you started but never finished.”

ghost hawk

★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Carnegie nominees are supposedly great modern works of literature, and much work goes into choosing the winner – nominations, a longlist, a shortlist and finally a winner. Thankfully Ghost Hawk didn’t quite make it the complete way, but it made it far enough. There always seems to the odd book on the shortlist that simply does not belong, and this year it was undeniably Ghost Hawk (with maybe Rooftoppers as a partner in crime.)

I persevered at the start. There wasn’t an initial grab, but the chapters seemed to be leading up to some sort of adventure, as is the case in many other a book, and this turned out to be Little Hawk’s time in the woods. The chapters that followed detailing his trials showcased what Cooper is capable of, and made for some enjoyable reading. However upon his emergence from the woods, the pace and plot slowed again, and reading became difficult.

It was here that I stopped reading for a while, prefering more recent recommendations and study texts over the Carnegie nominee I was really struggling to find motivation for. I knew at some point I would have to finish it (I can’t leave a book unfinished) and so I picked it up again over Christmas. Yes, last Christmas, and it has taken this long to trudge through it.

My hopes changed from ‘I hope this chapter has the redeeming feature’ to ‘I hope this last chapter has set up another adventure’ to ‘I hope I finish this soon’ as the pages unravelled with no spark, no suspense and no real pacing. The latter was not helped by the unsignposted time jumps, which were not only confusing but added nothing to the plot either.

The ending brought everything together, and admittedly there was an increase in momentum here, but there was still nothing to grip the reader in for the final few chapters. Thus it remains with the reader as a complete novel but one which had a bare and trudging plot, and was very difficult to continue reading. It’s books like this that can often make the historical genre unappealling due to confusion or boredom. Among the other Carnegie nominees (even Rooftoppers and Liar and Spy) it was definitely the star that just didn’t shine.

Not one I would recommend – parts were well on the way to being a pleasant read, but these were grossly overshadowed by dragging plots and meaningless time jumps.


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