Evie’s Ghost by Helen Peters

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Title: Evie’s Ghost

Author: Helen Peters

Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Allen and Unwin

Published: 28th June 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 304

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Classic children’s fiction from the author of The Secret Hen House Theatre.

Evie couldn’t be angrier with her mother. She’s only gone and got married again and has flown off on honeymoon, sending Evie to stay with a godmother she’s never even met in an old, creaky house in the middle of nowhere. It is all monumentally unfair. But on the first night in her godmother’s spare room, Evie notices a strange message scratched into the windowpane, and everything she thought she knew gets turned upside down. After a ghastly night’s sleep Evie wakes up in 1814, dressed as a housemaid, and certain she’s gone back in time for a reason. A terrible injustice needs to be fixed. But there’s a housekeeper barking orders, a bad-tempered master to avoid, and the chamber pots won’t empty themselves. It’s going to take all Evie’s cunning to fix things in the past so that nothing will break apart in the future…


Evie’s Ghost is the kind of novel that whilst for kids, is perfect for anyone who enjoys a mystery or historical fiction, and is a delightful time slip novel set in the early nineteenth century. Thirteen year old Evie has been sent to the country to stay with her godmother, Anna, whilst her mother and her stepfather go on a holiday without her. Annoyed at her mother, and with a dislike of her new stepfather, Evie reluctantly arrives at the house, and is devastated to learn of a lack of technology – and feels cut off from her friends and the world until an encounter with a ghost at her window draws her two hundred years into the past, to a grand house – where she must serve as a house maid to the Fanes who had once owned the property her godmother and others now live in, divided into apartments, and the interior grandeur lost. Waking up in 1814, Evie soon discovers a mystery to untangle, and someone to help – the daughter of the owner, Sophia Fane, in love with a gardener but who is being forced to wed someone double her age. With only a few days to work things out, Evie must find a way to help Sophia and get back to her time before she is missed.

Evie’s Ghost manages to tell an intriguing story, and uses the right amount of suspense and mystery, revealing things as they need to be revealed throughout the story, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in the characters and time period. The initial shock of being yanked from the twenty-first century into the nineteenth century and Evie’s response to the food and clothes, and the people, as well as their reaction to her, and the way she speaks, laughing off her suggestion of cleaning machines as dreams that will never eventuate all work together to bring the modern and old worlds together, and for Evie to adapt, though she sometimes slips up with modern dialogue, it works for her character, illustrating the stark differences between her time and theirs.

Telling it in first person gave the story a great impact – seeing both worlds through Evie’s eyes ensured that the strength of the contrasting worlds and attitudes towards class and gender, and Evie’s shock at how people treated each other – gave the story more power, I think, and allows the reader to feel as though they are experiencing these attitudes with Evie. Showing this contrast through her eyes ensures that the varying aspects of the time periods are experienced by her and therefore, by the reader through a personal account. I felt immersed in the world in this way, but have also read third person novels where it has been done exceptionally well, and I think that comes down to the writer as well as the point of view character, and Helen Peters has done a really food job with Evie and her story here, culminating in a conclusion that had hints dropped here and there but that I still questioned at times, making sure I had all the clues right before my aha moment.

This novel worked because of these contrasts, and because of the compelling story that allows the reader to immerse themselves in the world of 1814 and Evie’s desire to help Sophia and get back to her time. The publisher’s website says it is aimed at readers aged between nine and twelve, and it is a good book for this age group, but I enjoyed it, as I enjoy time slip novels, historical fiction and mysteries, and Evie’s Ghost managed to combine all three to create a story that I read rather quickly, eager to see how it was resolved. I would recommend it to any reader who enjoys history, mysteries, and female heroines who resolve things for themselves.


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Time Slip Novels

Time Slip Novels


A time slip novel, according to the UrbanDictionary.com, a novel that transports the main character and therefore the reader from one time to another, such as from the twenty-first century into the sixteenth century. Time slip novels, by my understanding, can combine this element of time travel and historical fiction, and fantasy. It is a device that I have seen used in a few novels that contain historical and fantastical elements, mythic elements. A time slip novel is different to a time travel novel, where the characters simply travel from one time to another in a linear fashion. A time slip novel shares the stories concurrently with each other.


The use of the time slip in combination with fantasy or magical elements can create a special story that can be unlike any other. Some examples of time slip novels are:


The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, set in Scotland just after World War Two, and through a magical stone portal, takes the heroine, Clare, back two hundred years.


The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth, a children’s time slip novel set n Scotland, about the curse of Wintersloe and the Fairknowe family, and the heir’s quest to save her family from the curse.


The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, told across many years about Nell, and her search for her identity and family. This book moves backwards and forwards between modern times and the early twentieth century and Victorian times.  Set in Cornwall, on Blackhurst estate, it unravels the story of Nell, Eliza and Cassandra, and the place garden known as “the forgotten garden”. Filled with fairy tales, and authors and an image of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s “The Secret Garden”, it is a lovely time slip novel.


These are just three examples that I have read that fit this genre, there are likely many more that could be discussed. But what place do novels of this genre have in our world of literature?


Given that these three examples are not only time slip but historical fiction and have fairy tale and magical elements within their wondrous pages, and there are hundreds, if not more examples around, I will leave it at these three. These are three examples I have enjoyed. The idea of a time slip novel is, I think, an interesting concept, to have the linear worlds of two different times impacting upon each other even in small ways. As a genre, it is one I am yet to try writing in. It would just be a matter of the right plot and right historical moment in time to investigate for the story.