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The Intruders    by E. E. Richardson order for
by E. E. Richardson
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

E. E. Richardson, author of the suspenseful Devil's Footsteps, comes back for a scary encore with The Intruders. A newmade family of Londoners moves into a dilapidated and haunted (unbeknownst to them) country house. The man has two sons - mature, mocking Damon and smart, timid Tim - while the woman brings with her a headstrong, rebellious daughter, Cassie and her conciliating brother Joel. Cassie thinks of Damon and Tim as intruders.

Sound familiar? The plot isn't that unusual, but the characterizations are very well done (especially the conflict between Cassie and Damon, and between Cassie and her mother) and the suspense is superb. It starts with terrifying nightmares for Joel and Tim - of being a boy running for his life from horror and always caught. They also glimpse a ghostly boy in the garden. Joel sees a bread knife morph into a dagger dripping blood. Messes are made and Cassie blamed. And a cupboard door in the attic closes on its own, terrifying the boys trapped inside as they hear a child repeatedly chant, 'If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.'

Gradually, the eerieness, mystery, and eventually shared danger draw the young people together, changing resentment to alliance and even friendship. They try sťances, and get involved in historical research, in attempts to find what terrible unfinished business has kept the ghost lingering at the scene of what was clearly a crime. It all comes to a crescendo of a conclusion, in a raging storm that almost tears the house apart, but brings the new family together. The Intruders makes a perfect Halloween read.

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