Monday, July 24, 2017

Spirit Hunters

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

25117605Oh, Ellen. Spirit Hunters
July 25th 2017 by HarperCollins
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Harper's family moves from New York City to Washington, D.C. and end up in a decrepit old house. Harper has had problems at school-- she was accused of setting fire to the art room, and was hospitalized for some time, but she doesn't remember any of it. She notices that her four-year-old brother Michael's room feels oddly clammy, and he claims to have a "new friend" named Billy who tells him things that cause him to have headaches. Harper does manage to meet a neighbor girl, Dayo, so she has someone to help her investigate when things get odd. Harper has two bad accidents in one week; she is pushed down the stairs, and also cuts herself on an old metal fire truck. Dayo does some online investigating and finds out some very creepy things about the house, and Harper reconnects with her own "imaginary" friend Rose who inhabits an antique mirror. Things escalate with Michael, and Harper's estranged grandmother finally visits the family and not only helps Harper but gives her the surprising news that she is a spirit hunter who can communicate with ghosts. Grandma Lee is a mudang, a shaman who has worked with the spirit world for a long time, which is the source of the rift between her and Harper's mother. Can Harper save her brother, make the house safe, and come to terms with her inherited skills?
Strengths: No wonder middle school students don't want to move! All of the houses people move into are haunted! Bonus points to Oh for managing to add some new twists to this trope with a benevolent ghost friend, an unexplained hospitalization, and a Korean grandmother with interesting skills. Add to this standard family dynamics (busy older sister, young brother who requires babysitting), supportive and involved parents and a new best friend whose mother is a chef, and this was a fantastic story about ghosts, family, and figuring out personal identity. Really enjoyed this one.
Weaknesses: It was a little hard to believe that Harper's mother was so averse to the idea of ghosts, since Harper's and Michael's behaviors were so erratic, but I suppose if you grew up with a mother who was a shaman, it might warp you a little.
What I really think: Clearly, I need to stock up on salt. Just in case!

  Head over to School Library Journal's BeTween feature to read an interview with Ellen Oh!


  1. I wondered what you thought of this book. I liked it, too, but thought some of the horror tropes were a little too conventional. Still, my 11 year old self wouldn't have been bothered by that.

  2. I'm not much for ghost stories, but I look forward to checking out this author. Thanks.

  3. Funny review! This one should do well in the upcoming Halloween season. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.