House of Spies

House of Spies

Andersen Press


Oct 2005

The madness that can grip communities in times of strife, real or imagined, is fertile ground.
Griselda Gifford’s latest book visits a troubled community battling with the very real challenges of wartime. With German invasion a threat and families split up by the demands of military service, the focus of the story is on Pip and Harry, two young girls who are growing up fast.
And while it contains all the classic elements of horses, rival gangs and nasty adults it also adds a darker edge ‘ the locals’ antipathy to an elderly couple that they believe might be German spies.
The suspense is slowly ratcheted up as Pip and Harry become involved with Max ‘ the grandson of the elderly couple ‘ who is trying to run away. The threat of an adult lynch mob builds cleverly through the book as it heads towards its conclusion.
Interwoven with the main story, the reality of living with the war ‘ Pip and her mother are evacuees ‘ and the uncertainty of life and relationships when you literally are under attack is well illustrated.
The relationship between Pip and Harry has a real intensity but the book also ends with an insightful ambivalence about the way in which the girls’ friendship might develop. This may be a girls’ adventure but it’s not all jolly hockey sticks.

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