My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was invited by Diana Corbitt to read and write an honest review of her latest novel, Ghosters 3: The Secrets of the Bloody Tower. I’m happy to say that even though I haven’t read the previous books in the series, I was able to pick up and thoroughly enjoy the story. What I like the most about Ghosters 3 are the characters and their personality quirks and other details that make them individual and interesting. The trio of teenage ghost hunters at the center of the story includes the siblings Theresa and Joey (a boy with Asperger’s) and their friend, Kerry. Theresa and Joey can see ghosts directly when they manifest, but Kerry cannot and must use specialty equipment or depend on her friends’ recaps. I got the sense right away that they have had many adventures together and work well together as a team, but I didn’t feel I needed that backstory to follow along in this novel.
The plot moves swiftly, and the writing is efficient; I think if this were a story for adults, I would have enjoyed even more scene-setting and other details, but younger readers especially will likely appreciate the quick pace. The story starts out in the United States with an encounter with a ghost before the characters quickly travel to London, England, where they find themselves in the middle of a 500-year-old mystery. There are other subplots that weave in with the primary story, lots of fun (and sad) historical facts, and an overall tone that is humorous and matter of fact as told in first person by Kerry, with some beautifully written lyricism included, such as “Too bad the butterflies in my belly can’t hear them. Their wings batter the walls of my stomach as I struggle to draw in a good breath.”
Another thing I love about this novel is the worldbuilding. There are details about the ghosts and seeing ghosts in this world that really pique my interest, including a discussion about how few people can see ghosts, the reason for the cold during ghostly visitations, and the means by which the Ghosters team can make the ghosts more visible. The team’s encounters with ghosts are generally positive and fun, but even so I thought they were nicely chilling, too. The Ghosters have seen a lot of ghosts, but they can still be scared by them. I thought the atmosphere in the last third of the book was especially well-crafted, with the various plot threads coming together while fog blankets the city.
Until I read Scary Stories for Young Foxes and now Ghosters 3, I had no idea middle grade horror was so effective. I’m reading a lot more adult horror novels and short stories lately, but I’m excited to see how the genre can also be made suitable for younger readers. I loved being scared when I was a kid, and though Ghosters 3 emphasizes teamwork, inclusiveness, and adventure, there are also scary and tense moments kids (and adults) will enjoy.