Thursday, January 11, 2018

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

When I was picking fantasy books for my 5th grade and up book club, I wanted to make sure I had a variety - both in diversity and in type. So, I picked out some scary books as well. As it turns out, I had all 5th graders, none of whom enjoy scary stories. But that didn't stop me from reading them for myself!

I saw a panel with Ellen Oh at ALA and she sounded very funny - so I was curious how she worked out as a writer of scary stories. I don't read a lot of scary stories. This one was definitely chilling; although it didn't bother me as an adult I can see kids being freaked out by it. Which, if you're a kid who likes to be freaked out by scary stories, is perfect!

Harper is miserable. She isn't happy about moving to their new house, she has a vague feeling (egged on by her older sister) that it's all her fault, but she can't remember anything after her stay in a psychiatric hospital where she was severely injured. Now there's something odd about their new house. As Harper slowly regains her memories and watches with increasing worry her younger brother's strange behavior, more and more frightening phenomena begin to happen. Harper must find her inner courage, be honest with old and new friends, and embrace both her heritage and her power if she's going to save her brother - and herself - from a deadly danger.


Harper's hidden memories and dark past are due to being possessed and injured by powerful ghosts - ghosts she was unable to fight back against without the care of her grandmother, who has embraced her Korean heritage of shaman, unlike Harper's mother who refuses to recognize the spirit world. The growing possession of her younger brother by an evil ghost and the support of a new friend enable Harper to overcome her fears, embrace her power as a spirit hunter, reconnect with her grandmother, and help her family.

There are casual references to Harper's Korean-American heritage and the conflict in her mother who has rejected anything she can't personally touch or see. Harper encounters casual rudeness and racism and also encounters similar instances even among ghosts, who fear and dislike her grandmother's ghostly companion because she is African-American.

Verdict: This spinetingler grows its story slowly, piling on the supernatural danger and fear until it all comes to a dramatic climax. Recommend to readers who enjoy stories like The Books of Elsewhere and other creepy stories.

ISBN: 9780062430083; Published 2017 by HarperCollins; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

No comments: