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This was an amazingly phenomenal book. I couldn't remember if I had read this growing up or not. I distinctly remember the movie, but I don't think I ever read the actual book. So I picked up a copy of the audiobook from the library to listen to while driving for work.
This is such a magical, wonderful adventure. Typical Roald Dahl fantasy: dark, yet whimsical. There are a few dark, morbid things in the book (in classic Roald Dahl style) and some not-so-nice language (idiot, ass), but nothing too bad. It shouldn't deter readers or their parents, just something to keep in mind.
I loved this book. It is such a great adventure story. All these weird things happen and there are all of these amazing characters, it's just perfect. It all feels so effortless.
Even if you've read the book, I recommend the audiobook as well. Julian Rhind-Tutt does an amazing job doing the voices and it includes sound effects, which makes for a very fun story.
A very, very wonderful story. I loved every moment of it.
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories was a must-have for me for 2 reasons: 1. Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors and I want to read everything he's ever written and 2. I love ghost stories. I have to admit that going into this one I was very much under the impression that this was going to be a book filled with stories written by Dahl himself. I clearly hadn't read the synopsis or book jacket because that is not what this book is about. This is a collection of some of Dahl's favorite ghost stories written by other people. He compiled this list when he was working on a project for American television and his preparation was extensive. He read 749 tales of the supernatural by different authors and from that large number he whittled it down to 14 of his favorites that he felt were not only excellent examples of writing in this genre but that would make for good television. (He also discovered that women are experts in this field and until the 11th hour he thought they would beat out the men with a hard majority.) Since there are 14 different stories in this collection, I will only talk about 2 that I found particularly chilling (and yes they are written by women).
The first is called 'Harry' and was written by Rosemary Timperley. It bore a striking resemblance to The Imaginary in that its primary focus was on a little girl who had a strong friendship with an imaginary boy. The biggest difference here is that the mom tried very hard to squash this relationship because she had a deep and abiding fear...of the name Harry. Yes, I too found this odd. Nevertheless, while it may seem irrational this fear was quite powerful and instead of ignoring the interactions of her child and her invisible playmate she let it consume her until...well you'll have to read the story.
I did it! I read this book.
Now you're thinking that it isn't such a big deal to read a children's book. It could take most readers a day or two, but I had the nuttiest inspiration to read this book out loud to myself. I do not live alone and I could only read this when there was nobody around. Plus I could not read for very long periods of times because my throat would start to hurt. Needless to say, it took me a while to read this. I could have pushed myself and read every day, but I didn't, plus I was reading other things too.
I did not expect so much feeling from this book. It really does remind me of Dr. Seuss and Raold Dahl like the blurb on the book says. It also has A Series of Unfortunate Events vibe in the sense that it is a children's book that doesn't sugar coat words. It is very dark and morbid at times. I love this about children books. People do not give kids enough credit and they can handle a bunch more than sickly sweet stories where nothing bad happens, so it is nice to have a series like Lemony Snicket's or this book.
There were times in the book were I got choked up while reading and that came out of the blue. The characters were really well written and I felt close to them.
The only reason it did not get a five star is two bits. There was a point where one of the characters was mean to another character and it irked me quite a lot because I thought she would know better than treat someone that way, considering how her guardian was toward her. This only happened once, so I wasn't bothered enough to stop reading, which I could have been if it continued to happen.
The other bit is some of the writing did not flow as well as a verse should flow. This might be because I'm reading it out loud, but it should roll off the tongue, I believe and be like a song or epic poem. (The rhyming kind.)
Other than that I loved this book and the characters. Even the villains were done so bad that they were good, you know what I mean. Same as the parents in a lot of children books, I disliked the guardian figure in this story, but you are meant to. The author wrote her so creepily well.
Side note, this is the first book I have wrote in, marked up, highlighted since I was a child and that wasn't seen as so taboo in the book community. I don't know if I will continue to annotate my books, but the experience, though frightening, was very fun.