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25
4.5 out of 5 stars
Ghost Hawk
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Ever since I read Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising, and the sequence of which it is part I have loved Susan Cooper’s books and she she has remained one of my favoured authors. Probably my next favourite of her books was the less well-known (I think) Seaward, but these were all books of my childhood and she releases new books only occasionally. I was therefore really looking forward with great anticipation, reading this, her latest. So much so that I went down to my local bookshop on the day of publication to buy it…

I was not disappointed. The narrative is delicious. Through Susan Cooper’s words you really get a feel for the landscape and the language of the native American people at the the time when the first English settlers were arriving. Throughout Book One, I really felt that I was living Little Hawk’s life as he experienced his coming of age adventures on his own, and I was shocked and surprised at how Part One ends… although I’m not sure why considering the title of the book!

The tale of John is also convincing, but I feel that I was let down by the story as a whole for the same reason that, much as I love The Dark is Rising Sequence, I feel a little unfulfilled by it. The main characters seem to be following some predermined destiny that they must follow and so in the end, whatever they might decide to do or not do its not actually going to make any difference. In The Dark Is Rising Will is an Old One who has no choice but to do what has been foretold. Here, Ghost Hawk too, must wait on his island for John to come to him – they can’t do their own thing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2014
*This review is spoiler free*

I'm in two minds about this novel. Whilst I thought that 'Ghost Hawk' was an interesting, poetic and well researched story that successfully blended history and fantasy together, I couldn't help but feel that I was 'detached' from Cooper's narrative and her characters due to how often the author summarised story events, and how she 'chunked' the novel into four sections.

Rather than painting a vivid and detailed picture that grips the reader and forces them to feel empathy, hate, or any emotion for her book's characters, Cooper has instead created characters who, to put it bluntly, I found difficult to care about. The author often tells the reader what the characters are like, or shows the characters to be overly-serious and two-dimensional. Without spoiling the book for anyone who hasn't read it, I do understand why Cooper chose to present the characters as zealous and serious people due to its historical context, but I still feel as though the characters could have been more likeable. Even John and Little Hawk, the novel's two main protagonists, are difficult to relate to because they are simply too serious!

However, I don't want to be completely negative about this story, because I do genuinely believe it's worth a read. As mentioned previously, the novel is written in a poetic style that may or may not be your perfect cup of tea. I think that younger readers may struggle to access the book because of its style, as there are several instances that could be extremely tense, but arguably aren't because of the novel's poetic tone. It's also worth mentioning that I found the historical context of the novel really interesting, as I knew very little about the Native Americans before reading this book, and it inspired me to do a little bit of research after finishing the final page!

Overall, I'd say this book isn't for me, but I can definitely see the appeal. If you want to try something a little bit different and crammed with historical context, this may well be the book for you!

3*s
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2014
I admired the writing at times but thought it was a real mistake to mix history and fantasy. Some events really strained credibility which is difficult to discuss without giving away the plot. I felt Cooper took on too much and the narrative device she used failed to cover so many events over such a wide span. The book also felt 'chunked' into sections and lacked narrative flow. We are told a great deal at points rather than shown. I disliked the ending which was very inconclusive. Cooper does capture well the way of Little Hawk and his people but overall I was disappointed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2013
Narrated by Little Hawk, this is a story in 4 parts, each named after a phase of the moon, although I hadn't realised that until the end of part 1, when there is a shock. Part 1 Freezing Moon is the story of mans first engagement with First Nation people as they begin to inhabit the lands around Boston, following their pilgrimage from Britain. This is when young John Whateley meets Little Hawk. Part 2 Planting Moon follows on immediately in time, following the story of John as he grows up and becomes an apprentice to a cooper and then a journeyman. This is where his beliefs about First Nation people develop as he continues to regularly meet with Little Hawk, who teaches him his language. He meets and eventually marries Huldah and moves to a new colony where Baptists and like minded thinkers live freely. PArt 3 Burning Moon continues Johns and his family story and the growing tensions between First Nations and white man, culminating in raids on property and many deaths. Part 4 Ripening Moon seems to bring the story up to date when a woman is returning her piece of land on the island where John and little Hawk met, back to its native plants. She finds a tomahawk that once belonged to Little Hawk and decides to bury it, so closing the circle of life and setting the native spirits free. I've been deliberatley careful in how I've worded this review as I wouldn't want to give too much away of the story, but it's a good read and illuminating about the early life of settlers in America. Susan Cooper has herself moved to the US and lives on a piece of land that inspires the island in the story, and although she has made up teh characters and majority of events - they are based on solid evidence and historical fact and she provides links to further sources and reading at the end.

Well worth reading
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 17 September 2013
A new book from Susan Cooper is always an event, and a surprise. Her subject matter - and the way she treats it - is varied and each book is distinctive. This one is no exception. Beautifully written, half way through its plot takes an unexpected turn that gives the reader a big shock.. It's a bold move that works well. The book resonates long after it has been finished a terrific read, warmly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2014
To be perfectly honest when I finished this book I was relieved. The book was average, there were good parts and bad parts. After the twist in th ploy the book became tiresome but I did like how it. I would recommend this book to children aged 8-10 that don't get upset about books with war and killing in. The book isn't gruesome but younger children could get upset with a fe of the things that happen in the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2014
Really enjoyed this one! As a secondary school teacher I try to read a lot of the Carnegie nominees. Ghost Hawk reminded me of a lot of my own childhood favourites (especially The Hollow Tree by Janet Lunn) and I really appreciated Cooper's daring narrative choices. Very interesting, and a good introductory perspective for British kids into what life was like in colonial America.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2014
A story of friendship and of the savage treatment of a group of indigenous people, sensitively and beautifully penned by Susan Cooper. I would not hesitate to recommend this for young people aged 10 and above - and to be read aloud to younger children too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2014
i don't dare write anything more; I might spoil it for you! but i will say this much: its a must read for those who love historical fiction, drama filled books or even a story with a powerful message. seriously, you'll love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2014
This book gripped, tugged at the heartstrings, entertained, informed, made me care about the characters - wow! Definitely one I shall read again. I heartily recommend it.
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