The Turnkey (Allison Rushby, Walker Books)
Witnessing the turbulence and devastation of World War II during the London Blitz would prove challenging for any 12-year-old girl, but Flossie Birdwhistle is no ordinary girl—she is a ghost. Chosen to be the Turnkey at London’s Highgate Cemetery, Flossie has been charged with the special task of looking after the souls that reside there. When Flossie discovers the ghost of a mysterious German soldier, far from his home and carrying a strange object, she uncovers a terrible secret that threatens the worlds of both the living and the dead. With the help of the other Turnkeys, Flossie must unravel the mystery in order to save London. Allison Rushby cleverly weaves a supernatural plot into a page-turning mystery with a fresh historical perspective and a strong heroine at its centre. She also handles the spiritual elements and death references carefully to be suitable for the book’s intended readership of children aged nine years and up, while also raising important questions about humanity and war that will still resonate today. With a well-structured, engaging narrative, The Turnkey will appeal to the curious and is recommended for fans of Susan Green’s The Truth about Verity Sparks and Lee Battersby’s Magrit.
Maria H Alessandrino is a writer and freelance reviewer