book blog · book review

The Girl in the Locked Room by Mary Downing Hahn


A family moves into an old, abandoned house. Jules’s parents love the house, but Jules is frightened and feels a sense of foreboding. When she sees a pale face in an upstairs window, though, she can’t stop wondering about the eerie presence on the top floor—in a room with a locked door. Could it be someone who lived in the house a century earlier?

Her fear replaced by fascination, Jules is determined to make contact with the mysterious figure and help unlock the door. Past and present intersect as she and her ghostly friend discover—and change—the fate of the family who lived in the house all those many years ago.


*I would like to thank the publisher, Clarion Books, and NetGalley for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

Jules’ family never stayed in one place for a long time. At an early age, she’s been used to moving from one place to another. Never once settling due to her dad’s work who loves to restore historic houses and buildings. Until they came to Hillsborough. Her parents love the house in Oak Hill, an over a century old mansion, dilapidated and abandoned. But Jules is uneasy as the house looks creepy. Not long after, she started seeing things her parents can’t. A little girl on the top floor of the house, a family on the field wearing old-fashioned clothes. And at night, there’s horses and voices. It was scary but Jules is more keen on finding out who’s the little girl. When she found a new friend who actually believes in her, they set out to find out more about the girl in the locked room in the attic.

The Girl in the Locked Room is unexpectedly a light read. If you’re looking for a terrifying story, this is not it, as it caters to younger readers. The story is heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Jules is a strong main character, as well as Lily, the ghost little girl. The alternating narratives work well and it is nice to read the ghost’s perspective as we get to know her, her fears and sorrow and why she was stuck in the room. But it also made things less creepy, which I actually didn’t mind. The events of how Lily died is tragic and I like the idea that Jules and her friend, Maisie, came up with to help the little girl. It is a fast read with only 200 pages and thus, I was left wanting more. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with how things end with Jules and Lily. The Girl in the Locked Room is an interesting and touching tale about friendship and selflessness. A well-written ghost story that young readers will definitely enjoy and with enough mystery to keep the adult readers entertained, too.





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