Wednesday, February 5, 2014

BSC #9: The Ghost at Dawn's House

By Ann M. Martin. Published January 1988.

It always infuriated me that the stairs were going
up instead of down, like they're supposed to.

Y’all, this was my A+ Number One book back in the day. The spine on this was so curved and beat up from reading it so many times. Let’s see how the story holds up.

So girls have returned and been reunited after their super long two week break from each other. There is much squeeing to be done.

The next day, Dawn invites everyone over to help search for a secret passage in her house. It’s so old she’s sure there is one. The girls don’t get much accomplished, though, aside from scaring each other. And Jeff has the last laugh in that, because he is awesome.

Mary Anne gets to meet the Perfect Perkins, and they’re wonderful and adorable, of course.

Dawn sits for the Pikes, and Mallory gets to be the second sitter. Yay for Mal. Dawn learns first hand about a problem Stacey and Mary Anne ran into with Nicky. He’s too young to play with the triplets, and he doesn’t want to play with girls. So his parents gave him a two block rule, meaning he can go anywhere by himself as long as it’s within two blocks of their house. He briefly disappears while Dawn is sitting, but shows up after a while, sweaty and dirty.

After sitting, Dawn gets home and decides to read in the barn. She goes to sit on a cool spot, and ends up falling about five feet. I would think that shit would hurt more than it seems to. But anyway, she’s done it, she’s found an actual secret passage way.  The tunnel goes towards her house, turns into a set of stairs, and down a narrow hallway. It ends in a secret door leading right into Dawn’s bedroom. That shit is legit awesome.

Going back more slowly, Dawn finds some stuff in the passageway. An old button, a buckle, possibly from a shoe, and a key. The key causes her to become convinced that a prisoner died in there, and scares herself into thinking her house is haunted. Pretty big fucking leap there, Dawn.

Kristy sits for the little Thomas-Brewers, and Karen of course scares the shit out of everyone with a story about old Ben Brewer. I’ve got to hand it to Karen, though, bitch can tell a hell of a good story. And she totally shuts Kristy down at one point. Kristy tells a stupid knock-knock joke, and Karen’s just all, “So, anyway…” It’s pretty hilarious.

That same night, Dawn is sitting for Jeff, because her mom is going out on a date, but not with Mary Anne’s dad. Dawn’s a little pissy about this. The guy’s name is Trip, and Dawn and Jeff call him the Trip-Man.

There’s a storm, and the lights go out. Jeff gets bored, so Dawn shows him the secret passage. They find a couple of new things, a Buffalo nickel and an “old-fashioned” ice cream cone. Dawn tells Jeff that it’s haunted, then they hear creaking and a moan, and are freaked the hell out. They call their mom at their grandparents’, where they went for dessert. Then they start piling all of Dawn’s shit in front of the door to the passageway, like that’s going to stop a ghost. Sharon and the Trip-Man arrive, and the Trip-Man goes in, and says there’s nothing there. He leaves, and Dawn goes to sleep on the couch. But she finds an old book, “A History of Stoneybrooke”, and reads the chapter on legends. There she thinks she finds a story about her house, and a guy named Jared Mullray, and it, to her at least, confirms that the passageway is haunted.

There’s a chapter where Claudia sits for Jamie Newton, but it doesn’t have anything to do with anything. Moving on.

Dawn gets Mary Anne into the passageway. They find peanut shells and a book that weren’t there before. Dawn gets scared, so she tells Mary Anne about the ghost, and freaks her out. Mary Anne bolts, and almost locks Dawn in the passageway.

Stacey sits for the younger Pikes, and while she’s having an issue with the girls and some concentrated shampoo, Nicky disappears again. She calls Dawn in for back-up. Dawn is eventually able to find him, and again he’s all sorts of dirty.

And Dawn has a theory brewing.

She gets to test it a few days later. She goes to sit for just Mallory and the boys. The triplets are really awful to Nicky, and he takes off. Dawn goes straight to her barn and the passageway. Sure enough, Nicky is there. She shows him the door into her room, and he explains a few things for her, that a lot of the stuff in passage he left there. But he was never there at night.

The BSC has a slumber party at Dawn’s house. Stacey and Dawn feel like nerdy lepers when the other girls abandon them to go make s’mores. Dawn tells Stacey of a way to get back at them. A little while later the two of them leave, to ostensibly get drinks, but they sneak out to the barn and the passageway instead. When they get up to the wall of Dawn’s room, they start tapping on the wall and moaning. The other girls start screaming, and Mary Anne freaks out about the ghost. Dawn and Stacey open the door and laugh at them.

After they’ve closed the door, they hear rapping from the passageway. They know it’s too late to be Nicky. Is it haunted after all? Dun-dun-DUN.

o   I had such high hopes when we moved to Connecticut that we’d get a house and barn like Dawn’s. Instead we got a house built in the 80’s. Very disappointing.

o   This book is where I learned that heat rises. Thanks for the education, Ann!

o   Mrs. Pike leaves a list of chores for Stacey to do. She does get paid more, but really? You’ve got eight able-bodied kids. Give them some responsibility.

o   This is the book where Mary Anne wants to watch Sixteen Candles. Probably inappropriate for any twelve-year-old, but especially overprotected Mary Anne.


  1. This was also one of my favorites growing up because it combined my love for the BSC and ghosts. I too longed for a secret passage, but I grew up in a trailer in Georgia so I had neither snow nor ghosts of my own. Oh how deprived we were!

  2. Obviously we were totally neglected. Everyone deserves their own haunted passage!

  3. This was my favorite BSC book growing up as well!

  4. This is STILL one of my favorite BSC books! My older brother and I once went around our great-grandparents house (we were four and seven when Grams died, and Pa died about five or so years later) looking for secret passages by tapping on the walls. We even found the hidden compartment in the wall where they kept all their important documents, like the deed to the house and their wills.