Title: The Word Ghost
Author: Christine Paice
Genre: Paranormal YA
Opening lines: ‘…You never do know what’s coming your way in the days before it comes…’
Blurb: This is England 1973, and fifteen-year-old Rebecca Budde is in love with Dave. After one glorious summer, Rebecca is forced to move with her family to Brightley, a village with a puddle for a pond, and no excitement at all. If only Dave were there. Very weird things are going on inside their new house, and even stranger things are happening in the village at night. Things don’t make sense anymore as Algernon Keats steps from the shadows, his sister not far behind him. There’s no Dave, two ghosts, a pub, a dog and Alex March, a dark and brooding artist, living in the Manor House down the road, whose interest in Rebecca is both puzzling and thrilling.
What do Alex and Algernon want from Rebecca? What on earth does any of it mean? Is it possible to love a ghost? And what happens if he loves you back? The lights are out. Welcome to Brightley.
My thoughts: Christine Paice is a beautiful writer and I loved her descriptions of the various settings – especially the spooky night-time ones – she also made some wonderful statements such as "…I liked the look of the librarian she had such wealth in her hands every day at her disposal and gave it out freely to anyone who joined the library…” However despite this I just couldn’t love the story and I think it was because of two reasons, firstly I just didn’t really care about most of the characters and secondly I just didn’t get the point of the story. What the story was actually telling me.
THE WORD GHOST certainly had potential, with its creepy and ghostly undercurrent. I loved Flora, the old woman who communes with ghosts and is the only person who gets Rebecca. I think she has a whole book in her as a character; in fact she is the only character who I warmed too. Then there was Algernon and his sister whose story just didn’t seem to get going properly. Every so often there was a hint that something could develop and it just died and seemed to go nowhere; and the ghosts were the best part – they but the Goth into this gothic story but weren’t allowed free rein, which was sad. Algernon Keats was obviously supposed to be ‘The Word Ghost’ but he seemed almost like a bit player at times, he could have been so much more important but wasn’t allowed to be. Poor Algernon. Then there is Alex – shudder. THE WORD GHOST is set in the 70s, and Alex is certainly a man of the time, in his late 30s and trying to act like he’s in his teens. Hedonistic and sleazy the relationship between him and sixteen-year-old Rebecca made my skin crawl and left me feeling like I needed a shower. The Alex subplot seemed to be a separate story that didn’t fit into the mould of the story properly, although I did get the whole thing about his ancestor and the Keats siblings. I also enjoyed the classroom discussions and how Rebecca’s English studies related to the spooky events in her life, those connections were very well done. Overall, I was both disappointed with the execution of what could have been a top notch story.
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D – Average – it was OK, a bit of a struggle to finish whatever redeemable aspects there were to this book, they were not fleshed out enough for me to truly enjoy it.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $29.99