The Beasts of Clawstone Castle

Publisher: Macmillan Children's books

Madlyn and Rollo are despatched to live for the summer with their reclusive elderly relatives in decrepit Clawstone Castle. Their hard-up aunt and uncle struggle to keep the castle in funds in order to pay for the upkeep of their beautiful herd of wild, snow-white cattle.

The children hatch a plan to help out; they round up a group of gruesome ghosts to attract the tourists and, sure enough, the cash starts flowing in. But a sinister plot puts the cattle at risk, and Madlyn, Rollo and the ghosts must rescue them before it's too late.

Eva Ibbotson's follow-up to The Star of Kazan is on one level a humorous fantasy. It is also, though, a fiercely political indictment of animal experimentation, cosmetic surgery, and the destruction of the natural world by greedy developers.

The Beasts of Clawstone Castle is a quick, entertaining read, but it leaves readers with serious issues to contemplate long after the book is finished.

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