Tuesday, October 07, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle

First line: "When I was really young, if there was one thing I wanted in the world, it was to be invisible."

Jenny is a typical moody teenage girl who likes the fast pace of her New York City life. Jenny is underwhelmed when her mother accepts a marriage proposal from Evan, but the drama begins when her mother breaks the news that they will be moving to the English countryside to live with Evan and his two sons. To make things even worse, Mister Cat will be required to spend six months in quarantine when they arrive in England. These are, indeed, the things of teen angst.

Moving to the English countryside and living in a rundown manor with a new stepfather and stepbrothers is a challenge, but Jenny finds herself adjusting to this new life and even enjoying it at times. The manor is full of mystery for an inquisitive young girl and Jenny spends hours exploring the house and grounds. Her explorations are fun and harmless until the boggarts come out and Mr. Cat brings home a feline friend that is less than tangible.

England is an ancient land full of history and folklore and, apparently, supernatural beings. It is only a matter of time before Jenny meets Tamsin, a ghost who has haunted the manor for hundreds of years. It is in the discovery of Tamsin's past that the reader is exposed to such Dorset history and historical figures as the Bloody Assizes and Judge George Jeffreys. Jenny is fearless in the face of the supernatural and makes it her quest to solve the dark mystery behind Tamsin's inability to find peace.

Tamsin is an unusual blend of coming of age, fantasy, English history and ghost story. Beagle effortlessly and believably joins these elements into a charming whole that is sometimes moving and sometimes startling.

I'll leave you with my favorite passage. A passage that will be quite moving to anyone who has ever encountered the loss of a loved one ...

Now, nothing - a kind of nothing I never knew existed, because you have to have lost something incredibly precious for that, and you have to have not quite known how precious it was.

Rating: 4 out of 5

This completes Peril the Third for the R.I.P. III Challenge.

Note to other reviewers: If you've written a review for this book, please let me know by posting the permanent URL for your review in the comments. I'll be happy to add a link to your review with my post.

Also reviewed at:
Things Mean a Lot (nymeth)
Geranium Cat


  1. I'm really glad you enjoyed it! It is an unusual blend, but he makes it work so well. Thanks for linking to my review :)

  2. I first heard of this one through Nymeth. I'm really looking forward to reading it, especially after hearing you enjoyed it so much, Terri!

  3. Great review! I also belong to the RIP Challenge, so I arrived at your post through that forum.

    Your description is convinciing and I think I'll add it to my 'want to read' list!


    Rio266 / Melissa in UT

  4. I read this book for the RIP Challenge, too, and really loved it - glad you did too. My review is at http://geraniumcatsbookshelf.blogspot.com/2008/10/tamsin-by-peter-s-beagle.html