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Annie lives with her elderly parents in a remote cottage. She is used to being alone. Every day she walks by the lonely marsh to school. Only in winter, when the wind howls in the trees, is Annie ever afraid. Her sister Willa is pregnant and Annie is overjoyed when she comes home to have her baby. Annie tells Willa the names of local plants and Willa tells Annie about the ghost, murdered by highwaymen, who is said to haunt the old forge nearby. Then, on a terrible night, with the phone lines down, Willa goes into labour. Annie is terrified of the ghost, but knows she must brave the storm to fetch help. As she ventures into the night, a horseman swings into view. He offers to take Annie to town. Before she can protest, Annie finds herself lifted on to his saddle and off they set on an intense, dream-like journey. Only once he has deposited her safely on the doctor’s doorstep, does the horseman reveal that he is the ghost she fears. A beautifully atmospheric short novel from Kevin Crossley-Holland, which won the Carnegie Medal.
AR book level: 4.1; Lower years; 0.5 points