History and mystery wrapped in a thrilling supernatural plot, The Turnkey is perfect for kids aged 9+.

Flossie Birdwhistle is the Turnkey at London's Highgate Cemetery. As Turnkey, Flossie must ensure all the souls in the cemetery stay at rest. This is a difficult job at the best of times for a twelve-year-old ghost, but it is World War II and each night enemy bombers hammer London. Even the dead are unsettled. When Flossie encounters the ghost of a German soldier carrying a mysterious object, she becomes suspicious. What is he up to? Before long, Flossie uncovers a sinister plot that could result in the destruction of not only her cemetery, but also her beloved country. Can Flossie stop him before it is too late?


Allison Rushby, the daughter of an author, was raised on a wholesome diet of classic English literature. Some of her favourite books, re-read countless dog-eared times, include Rumer Godden’s The Dolls’ House, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, Joyce Lankester Brisley’s Milly-Molly-Mandy series and Noel Streatfeild’s Shoes series. She adores cities with long, winding histories, wild, overgrown cemeteries, red-brick Victorian museums, foxes and ivy. She likes to write with a cup of Darjeeling tea by her side and a Devon Rex cat called Claudia curled up in her lap. The Turnkey is Allison's first book with Walker.


Allison Rushby cleverly weaves a supernatural plot into a page-turning mystery with a fresh historical perspective and a strong heroine at its centre.


‘The Turnkey’ is full of research potential for the classroom or out of personal interest. Allison Rushby has cleverly woven accurate historical details, places, people and objects such as the Holy Grail and Mayan crystal skulls, through the gentle but fast-moving narrative. Highly recommended – even if you don’t like ghosts. Actually I feel bad even saying that, Flossie was absolutely gorgeous and I’m sure we would be friends, if she existed, which I kind of hope she doesn’t because…well…ghosts.

Childrens Books Daily

I am always on the lookout for strong female role models in literature and Flossie ticks all the boxes, especially her kindness; we could do with more kindness in life and in afterlife. Flossie is a character who many young readers will connect with, despite her translucence!

Children's Book Daily

The Turnkey is a solid, original and intriguing tale that has the perfect blend of mystery, history and paranormal activity.

The Bookshelf Gargoyle

The Turnkey is not only a gratifying read for middle graders and above but also an interesting inference of how the second world war might have eventuated had there been more ghosts like Flossie to influence its outcome.

Boomerang Books

The Turnkey is a unique and enchanting mystery for middle-late primary reader. Highly recommended for school and public libraries.

Magpies Magazine

The historical and supernatural plot is filled with surprises, breathtaking twists and turns, and sudden revelations that will keep the pages turning. Prepare to read this in one sitting!

Kids' Book Review

…the slow-building tension allowed the characters to evolve and show us who they were. I’m usually not one for ghost stories, but I love Allison Rushby’s ones – I think this is because they’re not overly scary – or not as scary as some ghost stories can be, and they have a gentleness to them at times that is reassuring… Flossie is the kind of guide, or guardian that we should all get to have. She’s sensitive, kind, and caring, and the ghosts she takes care of are very lucky to have her. I know she is a fictional character, but I am wondering what she has been doing since the war, and if she is still the Turnkey of the Highgate Cemetery – she seems like the sort of person who would continue that job as long as she could. I am going to embark on reading the sequel soon and will get that review up as soon as I can.

Ashleigh Meikle


Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards, 8-10 Years
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