Monsters can RUIN a good vacation!
Harper moved to Washington, D.C. with her family and found out about her paranormal abilities in Spirit Hunters. She has made friends with some of the ghosts in a nearby cemetery, and her best friend (also a ghost!) Rose has been freed from being tied to a mirror and can go with her. When the two visit the cemetary, they find that the spirits are missing, and the one remaining boy, Roderick, thinks that something bad has happened to them. Harper doesn't have a lot of time to investigate, since her parents are dragging her and her siblings, Michael and Kelly, to Razu Island, where her aunt runs a resort. At least her new friend Dayo is invited as well. She calls her grandmother and finds out it is likely spirit eaters, but her grandmother can't help because Harper's aunt is expecting a baby any day. On the island, Harper visits her evil cousin Leo, who is looking rough. He claims that a ghost girl is trying to talk to him every night and is disturbing his sleep. Harper meets Holly, a girl who was vacationing with her parents at the resort when they were all killed by the monsters, and learns more and more about how the monsters came to be and whom they are targeting. There is a lot of history on the island, and Harper sometimes has visions through the eyes of the original founder of the resort, Monty. Monty's granddaughter, Olivia, befriends the group, and provides some helpful information. As Halloween approaches and the monsters gain energy, Harper realizes that there is no one to help her, and she must defeat the monsters on her own or watch 13 young people become sacrifices!
There are a lot of characters involved in this story, and I was able to keep them all straight, which means that Oh did a great job at constructing individual personalities for each one, including the spirits. I love Harper's irritated sister and parents, her adoring brother, her supportive friend Dayo, and even her "imaginary" friend Rose, whom she loses. Even Olivia and her troubled family are described just enough that their story made sense and added a lot to the sage of the demons. This sort of reliable character building across the entire population of the book is no easy task!
The draw of this book is, of course, the monsters. They are suitably evil. They glow from the ingested spirits that Harper must release, and are relentless in their pursuit of energy. Harper's growing skills at dealing with them will be interesting to follow in subsequent books, and I love the fact that not all of the spirits she meets are evil-- she runs across a whole range, some of whom are lovely.
Spirit Hunters has all of the best qualities of traditional ghost stories but has a fresh, updated quality with the details of Harper's Korean background and her supportive if somewhat clueless family network.