The House of Dies Drear: And Related Readings (Literature connections) (Literature connections)

ISBN: 039577523X
ISBN 13: 9780395775233
By: Virginia Hamilton

Check Price Now


Childrens Classics Currently Reading Fiction Historical Historical Fiction Mystery To Read Ya Young Adult

Reader's Thoughts


Where to begin?Probably with the word "said".I read this book in the 7th grade. It was assigned reading, mandatory, and so, of course, I hated it. The sentences were choppy at best, the plot could've been written by a 3-year old with a propensity for telling idiotic ghost stories, and the characters were like an open box of Cheez-Its--stale and hard to swallow.However, this was the younger me, the rasher me. I decided, years later, to give this book a second chance (something I usually do not do). And for good reason. Like an oxygen-saturated box of Cheez-Its, it usually only takes one helping to know it's shit.Now, the word "said."Forgive what may seem a little over-the-top, but I went back and counted the number of times the word "said" was used to describe dialogue. After coming out with roughly 250+ uses, I realized that Virginia Hamilton had no other verb to describe act of vibrating one's vocal chords whilst simultaneously pushing air out of one's mouth. Slowly, it dawned upon me that Hamilton had very few other verbs to describe the mundane actions her characters participated in.The plot was a completely different beast. And when I say 'completely different', I mean utterly and totally worse. It revolves around a young African-American boy and his family moving to a deserted Victorian mansion and adapting to their new life. Meanwhile, they are being harassed by their batshit crazy groundskeeper (posing as the ghost of a mudered slave or something), as well as being taunted by their weird and probably racist next-door neighbors. Thomas soon discovers that his groundskeeper, who should've been pressed with assault/vandalism charges long ago, is the keeper of an ancient trove of treasure kept by the house's previous owners. And after they discover this treasure and prevent their annoying neighbors from taking it (what is this, the Old West? Surely this family would be able to keep their neighbors from stealing their shit), they decide to give it to a museum. So concludes the book. This left me thinking, "Why would anyone in their right mind want to read this?"I still don't know. If you ever find out, I'll be somewhere else, reading an undoubtedly better book.


Deliciously chilling, with a healthy dose of history fascinating in its own right. I spent lots of time as a kid picturing the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad underground. But even after I learned better, I didn't appreciate what it truly was. I think I learned more about the Underground Railroad in this book than I did in primary and secondary school combined."I'll take freedom any day over all the romantic nonsense about slavery," said Mayhew."I mean not to glorify it," said Mr. Small. "I simply want people to know about it. It's a part of our history, and yet no one tells the truth about it."

Aj Lawton

I enjoyed this book a lot. The setting of this book is in the 1970's. This book is about a family,who moved into a new house.When they moved into the house, they expected what is usually thought about when moving into a new house. Little did they know that the house was around during slavery. They didn't know that slaves were killed in that house. The small family experienced some weird things that were happening in the house, mostly when they were out of the house. This house wasn't just any ordinary house, this house was haunted. Well who would it be haunted by. This is a fantastic book. The author is great. The author worded it great, she used great wordes and it was easy to understand. The author really connected you into the story. It is very easy to picture in your head and that's what makes a book great. I would recommend this book to all students in about middle school because it uses some big words and it's a little creepy but not too creepy. I would rate this book four stars easily. This book is amazing.


This book wins some kind of prize for creepiest title. I love saying it, though it sticks on my tongue.Winner of the coveted Edgar Award, this book is a juvenile historical that is structured like a mystery."Thomas Small, a 13-year-old African American boy, moves with his family into a house that was once part of the Underground Railroad that is in Ohio. His father, Mr. Small, tells Thomas that the caretaker of the house is Mr. Pluto. People think he is the devil because Mr. Pluto rides an old buggy driven by two horses and because Pluto is the roman name for Hades the god of the underworld. Once they move into the house, strange and scary things begin to happen. They meet a malicious family next to them, the Darrows. In the end, they learn that the Darrows are doing all they can to scare away the Smalls and get the treasure located in the underground railroad tunnel."Thrilling and educational, I don't know why this title doesn't come up more.

Kelsey Weaver

I only rate this book for two stars because I found it to be tedious. If you were studying Native American History this book would avail to you. Part of this book has its interesting parts but not enough parts for me. The author Virginia Hamilton filled this book "The House Of Dies Drear" with a lot of description almost too much description. Her attitude towards her characters especially the main character,Thomas, a young boy who discovers everything in the house that Dies Drear had previously owned for runaway slaves(he is deceased). Thomas is very disquisitive ever since his family moved to the old house. As you read throughout the story you grasp what the author describes about Thomas and understand what he likes to do or how he reacts to certain things. The author Virginia Hamilton expresses this through indirect characterization. Most characters aren't engaging as others. For example: Mr. Pluto/Mr. Skinner is a complete mystery in the beginning and Thomas eventually finds out who this man really is. This story takes place in and under the house it plays a crucial role for the story. Until the end of the story there is a mysterious atmosphere but when Thomas discovers everything there is to discover about his new home there is a soft warm feeling for Thomas knowing what kind of an atmosphere is in his presence. In most of the reading that some people do there is dialogue. In "The House of Dies Drear" there is a lot of dialogue between most of the main characters explaining what is happening. Dialogue is definitely effective. I wouldn't say that macabre wouldn't truly explain this book, but I personally think that this book wasn't at all scary or horrifying but there was death as the subject.

Guy Gonzalez

It's been a while since I've finished a book in 24 hours, but Virginia Hamilton's The House of Dies Drear moves quickly, almost every chapter ending with a cliffhanger of some kind that pushes forward to its satisfying conclusion. It's effectively a story about father-son relationships, smartly wrapped within a ghost story, as 13-year-old Thomas Small and his professor father learn the truth about the mysterious old Civil War era house the Small family moves into, outside Columbus, OH, and its connections to the Underground Railroad.Hamilton develops an engaging cast of characters, especially Mr. Pluto, the sinister caretaker of the house, and does a great job of weaving important bits about slavery and the Civil Rights era for context, without making it the focus of the story. For kids, it's a perfect complement to Christopher Paul Curtis' The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963. Highly recommended!


Thomas and his family just moved into this new house. Thomas first Thought of the house was what he expected. He knew something was up with the house. The only problem was he had to find out the hard way. Dies Drear and 2 other slaves had been murdered there, and there ghosts were said to have haunted the house. Thomas then had done some looking around, to find out the mystery of the house. I liked this book because I am into the ghost and mystery scene

Penny Johnson

Thomas has an interesting sense of the world around him. "Thomas knew where to follow. Moving blindly, he would suddenly have the sensation that his father had left behind part of his spirit like a handprint in the air. Thomas would stumble upon this unsettled space and would know his father had passed there."While I don't feel the book was "a spellbinding mystery with edge-of-the-seat suspense" as stated in the New York Times Book Review, I felt this book had an unsettling effect, with its descriptions of the house: "The dark and silent house looming over them had already reached out for them and was pulling them in...[It] seemed to listen to their uncertain tread. It seemed to watch them, pressing close as if trying to overhear."


Amir Lewis English: C block I read “The House of Dies Drear” by Virginia Hamilton. I actually enjoyed some of the book and most of it I didn’t seem too interested in it. The parts I did like is how adventurous “Thomas” the main character is. Do to his love of adventuring, he is the reason why most the events in the story happened. Thomas suspected that the house he was moving into was haunted, so as soon as he got there, he started exploring and finding different things. The things I didn’t like about the book is how slow the story was being told. In “The House of Dies Drear” Thomas and his family were moving from their home in North Carolina to a new house in Ohio. This new house is supposedly a mansion with a housekeeper named “Mr. Pluto”. This house is haunted by it’s owner, a guy named Dies Drear, and other slaves who died in the house. Dies Drear is an abolitionist. An abolitionist is a person who is against slavery. Thomas then started searching around his home and found hidden passageways. There were hidden passageways in the house because the house was located along the underground railroad. The underground railroad was a trail that slaves used to freedom. Hidden passageways weren’t the only things found in the story. One afternoon Mr. Small takes his family to the college campus, where he'll be working. Thomas gets very upset in his father's office. He feels unwelcomed in the new neighborhood and environment they moved into, he then is back to his normal self after lunch. The Smalls spend the afternoon driving around town.When they get home they find that someone, or something, has made a huge mess in their kitchen. The Smalls automatically blame Mr. Pluto. Thomas and his father go to Mr. Pluto's house, which happens to be in an underground cavern. When Mr. Pluto sees them he runs into his cavern home. Mr. Small and Thomas let themselves in and find themselves in the middle of an amazing treasure. First off I read this book because I wanted to try something new. I don’t usually read childrens novels, I am more of a realistic/non fiction reader. I found the book to be a little too boring and it didn’t catch my full attention. Things that I didn’t like were how slowly the events were being told. Also I thought that the book had bad imagery and how long it took just to get to the rising actions of the story. There weren’t specific events I liked in the story, it was mainly just how curious Thomas was the whole way through and how he found all of these cool things and history behind this home.

Piper Resch

Honestly I do not think this book is in the Horror genre, I was expecting more scary scenes and less talking. This book is good if you like a book with a lot of talking among the characters, if you are looking for a horror book keep in mind this book is mild in the horror genre.Summary: Thomas Small and his family have moved from their old house to a new one in the middle of Ohio, Thomas's dad tells them the new house was part of the Under ground Rail Road. As Tomas starts to learn more and more about the house and the mysteries it holds he starts to wonder if it is haunted. As spooky things start to happen around the estate Thomas starts to wonder if his suspicions are right, will him and his family survive?This book is good for someone who is looking for a short read, again this book is not very scary and can drone on in some parts of the book. Over all this is not my favorite book but it definetly showed me not all Horror books have to be extremely scary.

Morgan Swiers

I found "The House of Dies Drear" by Virginia Hamilton to be a tiresome and dull story. I didn't feel actively engaged as I was reading it and I found my attention being diverted away from the book many times. The author doesn't go into great depth when describing the characters and there is only some detail.The setting of the story is in Ohio around the 1960s. The main character, Thomas Small, has just moved into a new house in Ohio with his family. The house was part of the underground railroad and is said to be haunted by some of the slaves and the deceased owner, Dies Drear. The caretaker, Mr. Pluto, appears to be hiding something from them and Thomas is determined to figure out what it is. There is some indirect character development. The characters are round and somewhat engaging. As the story continues, it begins to lose momentum and becomes very tedious to read. Most of the book, including the ending, is very predictable. Thomas tries to put together the events that have taken place to figure out who the other characters really are. The story seemed really interesting at first, since it has an eccentric and original theme. However, the story was not as intriguing as I had hoped and I was disappointed. I feel like the author could have done a much better job developing the story and plot, which would have made it an engaging, and captivating story to read. The dialogue was somewhat effective in capturing the mysterious sense of the book but clearly not enough. The major theme of this book is revealed indirectly and is to never judge a book by its cover as Thomas did with Mr. Pluto. It seems to be a traditional theme. The setting played a moderately significant role in the story, creating a sense of mystery and suspense.Ultimately, "The House of Dies Drear" was not one of the better books I have read and is not something I would recommend to someone who is looking for a good book to read. I didn't find the quality of this book to be worthy of more than two stars. The author did a poor job of capturing my attention, therefore not making this an exceptional book.


In the book "The House of Dies Drear" by Virginia Hamilton it is a mystery fiction book of a boy named Thomas Small who has moved to an old house in Ohio. The characters in the book are engaging because many of them are questionable and you never know what is going to happen with them. The major themes in the story are the house itself and what Pluto the house caretaker is hiding from the Small family. The themes are revealed by the Small family finding out secrets about the house and Pluto. The Themes seem to be original because many books do not consist of these themes. The various elements of the plot are not handled very well because the book seems to be very jumbled and confusing. The elements of mystery and suspense are near the climax when Thomas and his father are finding out the secrets of the house. The intellectual quality of the book is simplicity because the author does not go into great depth when he is talking about the characters and the details of the book. The dialogue is effective in this story because you feel really engaged when you are reading the characters conversations because you never know what will happen. The setting definitely a big part of this st because that is hat the whole story is about, the house! The sense of creepiness is evoked in the atmosphere because the house is a big old house with many secret passages that seem to be haunted. The setting definitely influences the characters and the plot because Thomas is so curious about the house and that leads him to the adventures he goes on and it makes the story. The book consists of twist, unexpected turns and Thomas' adventures in the house of Dies Drear.


The House of Dies Drearby Virginia Hamilton 279 pages Scholastic0590135724 Thomas and his family just moved into this new house. Thomas' first impression of the house was what he expected. He knew something was up with the house. The only problem was he had to find out the hard way. Dies Drear and 2 other slaves had been murdered there, and there ghosts were said to have haunted the house. Thomas then had done some snooping around, to find out the secrets of the house.I like this book a lot. It was really suspenseful. That is 1 thing that made me actually like this book. It had me wanting to find out more. That made me read more, and thats something i really look for in a book, which made me like it a lot.This book was pretty suspenseful. It was able to make me keep reading more, because once u find something out like most mysteries, you want to find out the whole truth behind it. Parts of it were also shocking and kept the reader interested and entertained. The New York Times calls it " A spellbinding mystery with edge-of-the-seat suspense." Snaps to them. I would suggest this book to anyone who wants to read and be sucked in by the suspense of the book and your own questions.

Aj Burkhead

The House of Dies Drear begins with a dream. Thomas Small is in a forest running from a mysterious man with a white beard. When he wakes he realizes he's in a car with his parents and his twin brothers, Billy and Buster. It's his thirteenth birthday and the Smalls are driving away from their old home in North Carolina to their new home in Ohio. Their new house used to be a stop on the Underground Railroad, the system of people and places that helped slaves escape to freedom back in the pre-Civil War era. It has hidden rooms and secret passageways all throughout the house. Thomas's father is really excited because he's a historian and teaches US Civil War history.Thomas loves history, too, and really wants to check out those hidden passageways. He's excited for another reason as well. The house might be haunted by the man who once owned the house, Dies Drear. Drear was a person opposed to slavery. He gave runaway slaves food, shelter, money, and kindness. Drear was murdered by bounty hunters a hundred years before, sometime in the 1860s. The house is also supposedly haunted by other ghosts. Thomas knows this because he read the report his father got before he agreed to rent the house. The report also talked about three slaves running for Canada after they left Drear house. Two of them were murdered. Mr. Small got angry when Thomas read the report. Thomas can tell his father is keeping something from him and is determined to find out what.When they arrive at the new house, Thomas is extremely excited, and a little scared. He starts exploring the house right away. After meeting some kids that live near him, Mac Darrow and a little girl, Pesty, he finds himself trapped under the house, until his mother slides open the wall and lets him into the kitchen. Then he does more exploring and runs into the caretaker of the place, a man who's called Mr. Pluto. Thomas is very tired at this point. He sleeps in the living room so he can protect the house from any intruders. While he's sleeping, someone, or something, slips into the house and then out again. They don't know Mr. Pluto has already found the treasure. They were the ones that snuck into the Small's house in the night and vandalized the Small's kitchen. They've been trying to scare them away like they tried to do with Mr. Pluto. Mayhew is in town because he's afraid his father is sick, and because he wants to make sure the Smalls are nice people. He also wants to stop the Darrows from harassing his father. Mayhew has been dressing up like his father so nobody will know he's in town.One day they go into town and when they come back, there was a huge mess in their kitchen. Afraid Mr. Pluto is to blame, Thomas and his father go to Mr. Pluto's house, which happens to be in an underground cavern. When Mr. Pluto sees them he runs into his cavern home. Mr. Small and Thomas force their way in and find themselves in the middle of an amazing treasure! Mr. Pluto begins to explain, and soon, another Mr. Pluto comes into the room. Thomas tried to attacking him but he got away. It ended up being Mayhew Skinner, an actor, and the only son of Mr. Pluto (whose real name is Mr. Skinner). Mayhew and Mr. Pluto explain that the treasure belonged to Dies Drear, the owner of the house. Mr. Skinner found it long ago.They trick the Darrows into believing that Mr. Pluto is in the hospital, and his cave is unguarded. Then they wait in the cold and the darkness for the Darrows to come. When they do, everybody plays a part in scaring them badly, pretending to be ghosts and monsters. Terrified, the Darrows run away. Mr. Small agrees not to tell anyone about the Dies Drear treasure until he's had a chance to catalog all of it. This means that Mr. Pluto can keep living the way he has been for years to come. The next morning Thomas wakes up, eats a quick breakfast, and charges over to Mr. Pluto's cave. His dad and Pesty are already there with Mr. Pluto, cataloguing the treasure. Thomas feels happy, and like he's had enough adventure to last him at least a little while.

Mark Barry

The House of Dies Drear, written by Virginia Hamilton, begins with a dream that Thomas, the main character, is having. In the dream, Thomas is walking in a forest he's walked in many times. He wakes from the dream, also waking his little brothers in the process. They are on their way to their new Ohio home. Bored in the car, Thomas asks his dad to describe the new house, again. The house, Mr. Small tells Thomas that the house has pillars, lots of windows, and a porch around the outside. Thomas says it sounds like a plantation house. As the two converse, Mrs. Small says there is something evil at the house but Thomas tells her how she's just as eager to come to a new place as Thomas and his father are.She smiles, even though she's nervous about living in a house that used to be a station on the Underground Railroad. The man who first owned the house that the Smalls are moving to was named Dies Drear. Drear was an abolitionist (someone who believed that slavery should be abolished).Of slaves who had escaped, Drear organized the bravest and strongest men and women to go back into slavery to try to free others, and before moving into the house, Mr. and Mrs. Small were warned of the experiences that took place in that house. Thomas thought long about about the report of the atrocity that the foundation in Ohio had sent Mr. Small. The report talked about three slaves who had been hidden by Dies Drear. Everybody thought they were fleeing North to Canada, but they were actually coming from Canada, headed South to help free slaves.They were caught. Two of them were killed by the bounty hunters that captured them. That same week, Dies Drear was murdered in his home. From that point on, the house was said to be haunted. As Thomas was on his way to his new home, she was anxious, excited, and a little nervous or scared. Even with these "warnings", Mr. Small doesn't really read into this Ghost activity at first, constantly being pithy in his conversations about his disbelief in ghosts. Thomas's father is really excited though, because he is a historian and teaches Civil War history. Upon arriving at the new house, Thomas meets some kids that live near him such as Mac Darrow and Pesty. After exploring a bit, Thomas runs into what he saw as a monster, called Mr. Pluto. After church, Mr. Small takes the family to the college campus that he'll be working at. Thomas feels unwelcome in the new town. After lunch, he was back to his excited self. The Smalls spend the afternoon driving around town seeing the new area that they will call home, and Thomas is happy. When they get home they find that something has made a huge mess in their kitchen. Afraid Mr. Pluto is to blame, Thomas and his father go to Mr. Pluto's house, which is an underground cavern. Mr. Small and Thomas force their way in and find themselves in the middle of an amazing treasure. Another person comes into the room. It's Mayhew Skinner the only son of Mr. Pluto (whose real name is Mr. Skinner). Mayhew and Mr. Pluto explain that the treasure belonged to Dies Drear. Mr. Skinner found it long ago. A family named The Darrow family had also heard there was treasure, and had been scaring Mr. Pluto for years, trying to get him to leave the property so they could look for the treasure to keep for themselves. Mayhew, Mr. Pluto, and the Smalls come up with a plan to scare the Darrows away for good. The next day, they put the plan in action. They try to say Mr. Pluto is in the hospital, and his home of treasure will be left all alone. When the Darrows arrive, everybody scares them, pretending to be ghosts. The Darrows sprint away for their lives. Mr. Small promises not to tell anyone about the Dies Drear treasure until he's had a chance to catalog it. The next morning Thomas wakes up, and charges over to Mr. Pluto's cave. His dad and Pesty are there with Mr. Pluto, cataloguing all of the treasure. Thomas's eccentric "need" to explore and help Mr. Pluto pay off which make him very happy for a long time. This story was a great read. Throughout the story you feel a sense of foreboding as the author keeps you intrigued in what will happen next with her ability to put a vivid image of the round, or detailed characters. I believe that this is a wonderful book to read for many readers. It can be thought of as multiple genres, as it is about things such as history or a suspenseful mystery. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a suspense story and who loves an intense read.

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *