Honors

• Junior Library Guild Selection 2016
• National Public Radio’s Best Books of 2016
• Chicago Public Library Best of the Best List 2016

Reviews

starred reviewSTARRED REVIEW “The story is both simple—a ghost story—and as complex as the country it rises from, offering glimpses of Russia’s unique and brutal history in its examination of the institution of serfdom . . . and its exploration of the role of art as a vehicle for liberation. (The) drawings, smudged and torn, provide eerie accompaniment to the text. Middle graders unfamiliar with that history will be intrigued by the ghost story and the compelling setting, and explanatory notes both provide context and help to prepare them for such books as Candace Fleming’s The Family Romanov (2014) and M.T. Anderson’s Symphony for the City of the Dead (2015) later on. Eerie and effective.”

–Kirkus Reviews


starred reviewSTARRED REVIEW “The novel’s 56 mini-chapters are interspersed with beguiling ink sketches of everything from star-soaked skies and stark graves to pitchforks and dozing kittens. The narrative itself—accompanied by useful footnotes for obscure phrases like "lorgnette" and "Corps des Pages"—is by turns wide-eyed, inquisitive, and earnest. This is a haunting at its very best.”

–Booklist

“The creepiest middle grade ghost story of the year, so far. It’s full of gothic horror in a huge and haunted Russian palace at the end of the 19th century, and it’s a real page-turner, with a beautifully atmospheric sense of brooding darkness. . . . an excellent pick for readers drawn to the dark and gothic, who wouldn’t mind spending time rattling around in a really spooky old house in the cold of a Russian winter long ago.”

—Barnes&Noble Kids

THE HAUNTING OF FALCON HOUSE is downright haunting. Author Eugene Yelchin has composed a mid-level novel that really takes the concepts of loss, grief and our memories to a wholly different place. It is a solid old-fashioned horror story. There is no cheap jump-scare or gratuitous gore. Instead, this story has a setting and an atmosphere that carry a dreary and heavy weight. This story holds an ominous foreboding that creates a sense of isolation. THE HAUNTING OF FALCON HOUSE is a great read dealing with the themes of grief, loss and painful memories that can follow us well after we die. It handles all of these things —and more—exceptionally well for young readers and will make a fun addition to any shelf.”

—KidsReads

“Yelchin sets his imaginative, layered mystery—prefaced by a tongue-in-cheek opening note on the story's purported origins—in late-19th-century Saint Petersburg. At Falcon House, events unroll with an odd mix of creepiness and comedy: Aunt Olga and her servants are all broad characters who would be at home in a Dahl novel, while the mysterious boy comes and goes with disconcerting speed. Finally revealing Lev as an unreliable narrator, Yelchin leaves his fate open to speculation. Offbeat, smudged sketches play a peculiar yet effective counterpoint to the evocative language, and helpful historical notes are included.”

—Publisher’s Weekly

“In the introduction to this faux memoir,Yelchin describes finding the fictional prince’s papers as a boy and later showing them to Laura Godwin (the real editor of this book) for publication. Set in late nineteenth-century imperial Russia, the atmospheric story follows young Lev, “the last of an ancient lineage,” as he arrives at the cavernous Falcon House in Saint Petersburg, eager to assume his noble duties. Short chapters, an eerie setting, and a surprising twist at the end make this a compelling read for fans of historical fiction and ghost stories.”

—Horn Book

“Readers will enjoy the budding friendship, and the ghost story/mystery is compelling. Absolutely nothing is overlooked—from plot similarities in the author’s introduction to the haunting illustrations, which appear to be drawn by the protagonist. Certainly a different sort of book, this is one that takes time to digest and fully appreciate. A unique historical mystery from a celebrated children’s writer and illustrator; a great option for classroom discussion and a jumping-off point for further exploration of Russian history.”

—School Library Journal

“(Yelchin) very successfully merges historical Russia with a dark ghost story. Based on the premise of having found old notes and drawings from Lvov, the book is immediately mysterious and filled with wonder. There is the amazing setting of the huge mansion, filled with things like death masks and a basement of mothballed clothes. There are the servants who manage to work for his aunt despite her disdain and harshness. There is the ghost, who tells his own story but ever so slowly. They all create a world of darkness and beguilement. Then the book turns and changes, becoming something deeper and more filled with emotion. It looks beyond the cranky aunt and into why she acts the way she does. It examines the death of a boy and eventually becomes about who is responsible for it and why. It looks at servants and royals, at status and power. It figures out what it takes to become someone willing to wield that power too. Entirely gorgeous, haunting and deep, this novel is chillingly dark and wonderfully dangerous.”

—Waking Brain Cells

“Readers who follow the axiom “Nobody reads intros or endnotes” will settle right in for a great, creepy story, sigh with relief as Falcon House’s real demon is purged, and close the books with a contented smile. However, those who follow the total immersion route—from the faux title page, to Yelchin’s introductory remarks on the document he discovered as a child in Russia, to the notes that play it close to straight, commenting on relevant bits of Russian history—will appreciate the bonus delight of clever craftmanship. Additionaly, those already familiar with Yelchin’s workwill discern the implicit indictment of an imperialist system entrenched far too long and unwilling to go out graciously.”

—Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books

“A great book for students that enjoy creepy, mysterious ghost stories. I loved the build up to the twist ending. I wanted to reread the book after the shocking ending. The illustrations add another layer of spooky to the story. If you love ghost stories….this book is for you!”

–Daydream Reader

“The premise behind the book of a long-disappeared manuscript adds to the mysterious reality of Russian cruelty in a time of serfdom. The protagonist’s emotional growth through his newly discovered artistic ability makes the novel a compelling—and haunting—read.”

—Oregon Coast Youth Book Preview Center