The Second-Best Haunted Hotel on Mercer Street is a humorous and fun family-and-friendship focused novel. The incorporation of how ghosts fit into the world was clever and understandable without being too detailed. Hotel Ivan has more ghosts on staff than living humans, and each staff member has a unique personality, like Pierce the concierge and Chef Antonia. What adds strong emotional depth to the story is Willow's mother, now a recently deceased ghost who isn't like the other ghosts. Willow is not only grieving the loss of her mother and the absence of her father, but is also trying to convince herself that her mom is only just adjusting to being a ghost and not a WISP (a ghost who isn't fully aware of what's happening and usually fades within a year).
Contrasting to Willow's situation, Evie still has her parents (ghosts, but not WISPs, like herself) who love her, but only see one specific future for her, which is different than what Evie wants for herself. Evie's journey in learning to stand up for herself is moving and nuanced, as is her growing friendship with Willow.
The Second-Best Haunted Hotel on Mercer Street is a heart-warming story with all the spooks but none of the scares, making this a good selection for readers who love the spirit of Halloween but shy away from the horror genre.