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The Shadow Guests (Red Fox Older Fiction) Paperback – 19 Nov 1992

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Red Fox; New edition edition (19 Nov. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099888203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099888208
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.2 x 11.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 999,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joan Aiken is one of the best loved authors of the twentieth century, and has written over one hundred books for young readers and adults.

NOW OUT: E BOOK editions of six of Joan Aiken's early THRILLERS from Orion's The Murder Room - Look out for THE SILENCE OF HERONDALE or TROUBLE WITH PRODUCT X and FOUR other titles in their distinctive green covers - "Don't miss - guaranteed un-putdownable" Observer

"THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE" TURNS 50 with a new Classic Hardback Edition, a Vintage Classics paperback. and a brand new AUDIO READ BY Joan's daughter Lizza Aiken. Hailed as "One Genuine Small Masterpiece" by Time magazine when it first came out, the book is still appearing in new translations all over the world.

Read More at "The Wonderful World of Joan Aiken" at and

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Book Beaver on 3 Jan. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most engrossing children's books that I have ever read. For over 20 years I have read it to classes of 9-11 year olds and it has probably been the most successful book that I have ever read as a teacher. It is not a long book and has only 9 chapters and unlike many of Joan Aiken's books it has not remained in print. The tension is gradually cranked up but there is much humour and many delightful little incidents which prevent the story being a frightening one. It has peripheral characters such as a local farmer who often appears but hardly ever speaks directly in the text and an elderly widow who lives next door to the Mill House where Cosmo is staying with his first cousin(once removed) and these characters, like so many others, help to give extra layers to the story and make you really believe in the characters and care for them.
There are many threads to the story which make it a 3-dimensional pleasure which I will continue to read even though I have now retired from teaching. Many children have ordered copies from the internet after they have heard the story due to their enjoyment. Cosmo, the notional hero, is aged 10 and has moved back to England after a few years in Australia. His mother and elder brother, Mark, are mysteriously missing and apart from this preying on his mind, Cosmo has to settle into a boarding school in Oxford where he struggles to make friends and to cope with odd occurrences at the Mill House where he lives at weekends. Although he loves the house which he visited when his late Great Uncle Ted was still alive,there are strange visitations from characters who seem to know Cosmo and appear to be connected to him. Only Cosmo can see them - they are the Shadow Guests.....
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kate Hopkins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 2 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful story which manages to be both a ghost story and a psychological examination of the process of mourning - without being at all depressing! Cosmo Curtoys arrives in Oxfordshire to live with his second cousin Eunice, having grown up in Australia. His mother and older brother have mysteriously disappeared there, and Cosmo has been sent to school in England, with his father planning to join him. Lonely and desperately missing his family, Cosmo finds a happy home at Curtoys Mill, the family house, and good friends in Eunice, her dog Lob and her housekeeper Mrs Tidings. But as an intelligent newcomer to his weekly boarding school in Oxford he finds it hard to make friends, and gets bullied. Back at the Mill, Cosmo learns of a mysterious family curse that may have been the reason his mother and brother vanished, and begins to be visited by strange boys from past times: a young gladiator called Con, and a scholarly, gentle medieval boy called Sim, about to be sent to the crusades. From his friendships with these two, Cosmo begins to learn more about his family, and about human relationships in general. His visitations can both be seen as genuine visits from ghosts, and as a way of his mourning the loss of his brother. But Aiken leaves us in no doubt the supernatural is really there in her novel, particularly when Cosmo is forced to confront a terrifying enemy from the 18th century..

I enjoyed this book more than anything else Aiken has written (and I am a fairly big Joan Aiken fan in general). Revisiting it as an adult, it was even more enjoyable. The writing is subtle, the characters very well created. Aiken can write equally well about a medieval boy dreading a trip to the crusades and about bullying in a 1970s Oxford school.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 10 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
As a child I loved this book (I rather fancied growing up to become Cosmo's extremely intelligent aunt). It's a ghost story of sorts, but with a twist. Cosmo is a lonely boy, struggling to come to terms with the recent deaths of his mother and brother. While visiting his mathematician aunt, he encounters the 'shadow guests' who help him to understand his family's past. A good read for 10+?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
No curse on this 14 Feb. 2003
By E. A Solinas - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Probably the best reprints by Starscape books are the little-known Joan Aiken fantasies. Her "Dido" series is easily found, but only recently books like "Cockatrice Boys" and "Whispering Mountain" have been made available. "Shadow Guests" is the latest of these -- it isn't quite as good as the others, but still quite enjoyable.
After his mother and older brother mysteriously vanish, Cosmo Curtoys is sent to live with an eccentric mathematician relative in England. While Aunt Eunice is pleasant (though odd), Cosmo rapidly makes enemies of almost every other kid in school. What's more, strange things have begun lurking nearby, including a tadpole-like thing that fell off of his sleeve -- and grew.
Soon Cosmo finds out about something linked to the disappearance of his mom and brother -- a family curse that dooms every eldest brother to die in battle, and every mother to die of grief. Because of this curse, he is visited by "shadow guests," a Roman gladiatior, a naive Crusader... and a sinister force that threatens to kill him.
It's definitely above the average ghost story, and makes good use of Cosmo's social isolation to let him encounter ancestors who are also burdened by the curse. Cosmo is a likeable hero, who alternates between not understanding what's happening, and knowing all too well what is going on. Cousin Eunice is a nice (mathematician) twist on the usual weird relative; the kids at school often seem like their friendliness or hostility has some bearing on the story, but ultimately that peters out.
Aiken's writing is pleasant, although the pacing is a bit odd -- one minute we're reading about kids snubbing him at school or playing jokes on Bun, then we're reading about ghosts and ancient warlocks and family curses. Moreover, some of the details in the book must have passed me by, because I didn't quite understand a few parts of the ending. But the haunting (pun intended) atmosphere and mix of the unearthly and the solidly, likeably British is very fresh-feeling.
While this book isn't quite as stellar as "Cockatrice" or "Mountain," it's a solid ghost story with a pleasant storyline and hero. Well worth the read.
Great reading for schoolkids! 7 Jan. 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a great reading for school age kids, who like mysteries, and it can also help those who do not feel welcome at a new school. I think Joan Aiken is a wonderful writer, and I wish there was a sequel, so I can read more about Cosmo and his friends.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The book shows great realistic deatail. 3 Dec. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I really liked this book because it is a realistic story about Cosmo and his deceased mother and older brother. this book somewhat relates to my life and my grandfather because I feel that he is watching over me at all times and makes sure I get through life easily. That is what I think happens in this book and that is why I liked it so much, also it is a very realistic story so I think that is what I think makes this book a graet one.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It was ok I guess 24 Oct. 2006
A Kid's Review - Published on
Cosmo Curtoys went to England to stay with his Aunt for a while and when he was there strange stuff went on.

this book did a fair job of entertaining me and such, but it was quite dull at times and ended with no real conclusion.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Aiken again 30 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Cosmo applies to each person. We all have "Shadow Guests" and his illusions are like corners of mind. Aiken has written a lovely break from the Wolves series and written something very powerful. Death and love are the two components that appear to battle endlessly in Cosmo's mind, and that of his predecessors. Everybody should read this.
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