Jim, his sister, and his father are moving to the mysterious Minerva manor as a second chance. His mother has just passed away. He's unhappy there, in the stuffy old manor, with a Lord Minerva who seems out to get him. Then things get even worse when a voice whispers to him: "Find the seventh." Joined by Lord Minerva's autistic son, who seems to know everything, he must figure out who the seventh is, before time runs out.
First off, in many places, the story seemed similar to a video game. You know, like the Nancy Drew ones. The player goes from person-to-person picking up clues that lead to another person. There are scenes similar to cutscenes. Even the ending felt like the conclusion of mystery game. The entire time, you're like the player in the video game, controlling Jim. However, like with those video games, you don't have any control over him at all. He goes where the story tells him to go.
When I first realized it, I was a little in awe. But as I continued through the book, it seemed to be more of a hindrance for me. It might not be a problem for you, but it certainly was for me.
A second thing I must say is that words don't tend to chill me the way visuals do. I can't help it, it's just how I'm made. But Morton-Shaw's depictions of death did a wonderful job of the telling the story without going into a rapt description of how a weather vane killed a girl.
There seemed to be quite a bit of research done onto the properties of plants and certain traditions. There were major Pagan themes as the book went on, just a warning for those that don't like it.
The way she wrote Jim was very realistic, as well. His mind would wander, like a teen's does, onto all sorts of things. He had troubles with his families and his living situations and those thoughts pervaded his mind nearly at all times. However, it never sounded like a broken record to me.
When I thought we had reach the conclusion, I was rather disappointed. But the story went on and finished and things cleared up nicely. In many cases, as well, I'm unhappy with epilogues. I feel they ruin the integrity of a story, even a standalone one ('if you can't finish the story without the need for an epilogue, then continue it until everything is covered,' is my general mindset). Of course, there are exceptions for everything and this story was one. The epilogue made me quite happy.
Even though it's considered a children's book (ages 8-12, according to Amazon), I thought it was entertaining.The mystery was well thought out - when the reader thinks they know what's going on, they learn something new that changes their perspectives. It was the fact that I kept feeling like I was in a video game, not a book, that really warranted my rated. It totally ruined my immersion. Morton-Shaw, though, provided the right kinds of descriptions in the right places to set the mood, and at the same time, draw me back in.