The best ghost stories where the ghost helps solve a problem rather than cause one

Andrew Norriss Author Of Friends for Life
By Andrew Norriss

The Books I Picked & Why

The Amazing Mr. Blunden (Puffin books)

By Antonia Barber

Book cover of The Amazing Mr. Blunden (Puffin books)

Why this book?

It’s not quite clear at first whether the two children who appear one day out of the mist asking for help are ghosts, or whether the word is better used to describe the children who go back in time, as requested, to help them. Either way, this is a cracking story with a very satisfactory solution for all of them. And the amazing Mr. Blunden? For me, he is the best and the most moving part of the story. An old gentleman who made a terrible mistake in the past, but who has now been given a chance to put it right, and earn forgiveness and peace.

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The Canterville Ghost

By Oscar Wilde

Book cover of The Canterville Ghost

Why this book?

As far as I know, Oscar Wilde was the first writer to use the idea that a ghost is someone who is somehow trapped in the past and unable to move on because of something that he or she did when they were alive. Sir Simon Canterville murdered his wife in 1575, and is still haunting Canterville Chase 350 years later – rattling his chains, looking after the bloodstain where his wife died, and frightening anyone he meets in the corridors, until…

Well, you’ll have to read the story to find out what happens to him, but it is without question one of the most beautiful stories of forgiveness (and how much we all need it) that I have ever read.

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The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

By R.A. Dick

Book cover of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Why this book?

They made this story into a movie which is still one of my favourites, but the book is even better. Lucy Muir is a widow with two young children and not much money, who rents a house by the sea that is remarkably cheap, mostly because it comes with the ghost of a bad-tempered sea captain, who has driven out all the previous occupants. Mrs. Muir, however, is made of stern stuff and her relationship with the captain makes for one of the oddest, but still utterly captivating, love stories

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The Children of Green Knowe Collection

By Lucy M. Boston

Book cover of The Children of Green Knowe Collection

Why this book?

I’d better start by giving you a warning here. This story is from a time long before smartphones, the internet, or digital entertainment. Long before. So it’s a slow burn.

At the start, Tolly has been packed off to stay with his great grandmother in her old house in the country, while his parents are abroad. The house, Green Knowe, is full of mysteries and… ghosts. Ghosts of the past who carry the lesson that you never really know who you are until you know where you came from.

Brilliant stuff but, like I said, be prepared for the gentle pace!

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The Ghost of Thomas Kempe

By Penelope Lively

Book cover of The Ghost of Thomas Kempe

Why this book?

This is such a good story! Young James Harrison has moved to the small town of Ledsham in England and finds himself at the heart of a series of spooky accidents for which he is getting the blame. The real culprit is Thomas Kempe, who lived and died 350 years ago, but whose grumpy spirit lives on. Apparently, he does not approve of the ‘modern’ changes that are happening and is determined to stop them.

It is a story about change, how difficult it can be sometimes to accept, and yet how damaging it can be to cling to the past. Powerful stuff!

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