Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 221
Using the ghostlight to bring peace to lost souls.
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
I always appreciate a great hook, and chapter one of this book describes the “murder” of a lighthouse keeper and his daughter in the early 1800’s. The plot jumps almost two centuries ahead as a mystery-adventure evolves with ghosts taking on major roles. Gabe is able to see and speak with Rebecca, the ghost of a character dying in the first chapter, and he’s determined to help free her father from the ruthless ghost named Viker that devoured him. The key to stopping this spirit is a ghostlight that went missing so Gabe and his friends must collect clues to locate the amber lens before Viker becomes too powerful to stop. He’s consuming other ghosts to build strength, and the living characters are unaware of his ultimate plans.
Strong emotions are shared to create subplots. Gabe’s father left the family in the prior year but was then hit by a car and killed. Gabe is left with unresolved feelings of love and anger toward him that continue to pop up. Seeing his father’s ghost doesn’t make things better. Rebecca obviously has strong emotions due to her own death and her father’s fate after being ingested by Viker. Gabe’s best friend Yuri’s family recently moved from Russia, but not all members of his family have adjusted well to the changes. Unrest with Yuri’s family creates additional angst for his character. Another friend named Callie is the most stable character, but even she experiences concerns due to family expectations. Becoming a journalist does not offer the money she can make if she pursues a career in dentistry like her parents and other family members.
The most entertaining aspect of the book is the main plot itself. Trying to locate the lost ghostlight to stop an evil spirit is straightforward, but the author effectively adds twists and turns to complicate matters. You can imagine the difficulty of finding a lens lost in the sand two hundred years ago, but Gabe learns the identity of various characters that create a trail of clues to follow. These characters are now ghosts, so readers aren’t sure what to expect when he meets them. Dangers await at every turn as Viker seems to pop up every time Gabe and his friends make progress. My greatest anticipation is with Rebecca’s character. Gabe is able to see and hear her when she clasps his hand, but that act transfers some of his energy to her. Will this become a problem in the long run? Gabe starts to view Rebecca as a girlfriend, but he’s shocked at times when she reveals a wave of anger from within. Is she a sincere ghost trying to stop Viker, or is there a malevolent spirit inside her waiting to erupt? Several times, the plot appears to build to a climax only to take unexpected turns. Rest assured, the story finally reaches an exciting, suspenseful conclusion that leaves the door open for a possible sequel.
What didn’t work as well:
The trail of clues is unrealistic at times. The ghostlight is originally lost on a beach, and its ownership passes to random people over the course of decades. Somehow, the teens are able to research in their spare time to find names, articles, and locations to follow the history of the lens’s past. Finding clues seems unusually easy when you consider what the characters are actually doing. However, ignore any concerns and simply enjoy the exciting adventure created by the author.
The Final Verdict:
Using the ghostlight to bring peace to lost souls. Obviously, this book tells a ghost story, but it’s more about the perilous exploits of the characters than creating a spooky, eerie atmosphere. Overall, it’s a highly entertaining adventure, and I highly recommend you give it a shot.
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