The Outhwaites are a family that live in a valley in Christmas Hills in Australia, and everything is kind of going the way you’d expect for a family with five kids until the day that Aunty May, who lives next door, gets sick, which means that they might not be able to live in the house that they rent off her any more. And, almost at the same time, Dad inherits Outhwaite House, which is all the way back in London and is not going the way you’d expect for an empty house, seeing as it’s also inhabited by Hardly Alice and Almost Annie and an Attic you should Avoid, Absolutely. When the entire Outhwaite family move over to start a new life in London, it’s a chance for everyone to start afresh, but it’s never quite that easy. Else, the oldest, is attempting life without the violin that has always defined her, and which was mysteriously left behind when they left. Clancy finds that a new school means new friends; Finn and Oscar do what they do best and tumble through life, and Sibbi, bright and young and full of adventure, becomes none of those things any more. What is it about Outhwaite House, or about London? And who is the Endsister that Sibbi keeps talking about?
Even though in many ways this is a ghost story that can be very unnerving, it is somehow light and true at the same time, talking about kids at different stages of life and dealing with problems, or maybe solutions instead of problems, in this new world called London, so much more crowded than the expanse of regional Australia where they used to live. The chapters trip from one sibling to the next, so you see how things in the house are not going as planned, even when everyone means well–even Alice and Annie who haunt the place after all these years without necessarily meaning to. This is a wonderful book, with a great cover, a really terribly interesting title (I HAD to know what an Endsister was), and a way of talking about the grown-ups and their problems without being a total bummer like real life parents are always being (I know this, because I am a parent who is often a total bummer and does not mean to be.)