Mary Downing Hahn knows how to write a Middle Grade thriller, and in her 2004 release The Old Willis Place, she spins one of her best, a ghostly yarn of loss and loneliness about a pair of siblings forced to live under some very strange restrictions.
From the Clarion paperback:
Diana and her little brother, Georgie, have been living in the woods behind the old Willis place, a decaying mansion, for what seems like forever. A strict set of rules won’t allow them to leave the property or even show themselves to anyone.
But when a new caretaker and his young daughter, Lissa, come to live there, Diana is tempted to break the mysterious rules for the first time in hopes of making a new friend. She and George learn quickly, though, that breaking the rules can have deadly consequences…
This book is perfect inspiration for a Little Fears episode (or mini-series of episodes). Its tone, as well as the truth the story slowly reveals, is straight out of the original Little Fears*, but the events have very strong ties to some of the elements found within Book 2: Among the Missing (for Little Fears Nightmare Edition)**. Whichever edition you fancy, The Old Willis Place has something for you.
If you enjoy the book, I highly recommend Ms. Hahn’s other works as well, especially Wait Till Helen Comes. I have another of her books, All the Lovely Bad Ones, on my to-read list as well. She’s one of the few authors whose books I’ll pick up without hesitation.
*The tenth anniversary edition of which just came out in PDF (and will be out in print shortly).
**And, coincidentally, touches on some stuff in the works for the not-yet-announced Little Fears Nightmare Edition Book 3.