Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel

Ghostlight

Information

Goodreads: Ghostlight
Series: None
Age Category: Middle Grade
Source: Library
Published: 2022

Summary

Every day on his ghost tour, Gabe tells the story of how sixteen-year-old Rebecca Strand and her father mysteriously died on Toronto Island back in 1839. Did they fall off the lighthouse or were they pushed? But the truth is even wilder than he could have imagined. Rebecca’s father was a member of an Order dedicated to protecting the living from the wakeful and wicked dead. And the two of them were killed by a ghost that has now returned. Along with Rebecca’s ghost, Gabe and his friends must work together to save the land of the living.

Star Divider

Review

I have to admit, Ghostlight gave me many questions. The whole premise underlying the story seems a little too weird and impractical for it to make any sense. Still, if one is willing to suspend disbelief, Ghostlight is a fast-paced adventure perfect for fall reading. It’s ghostly, but probably not too spooky for the average reader.

For the first couple dozen pages, however, I simply could not get over the conceit that is the catalyst for the story. The premise is that lighthouse keepers are actually (usually) members of a secret Order dedicated to protecting humanity from the “wakeful and wicked dead.” They keep watch for ghosts washing ashore, then use their lighthouse beams to blast the spirits and disintegrate them. Okay…but… What about all the ghosts that are on land? Doesn’t the light have a limited range of motion, meaning that if one can get close enough to the lighthouse, one is safe? Won’t ships get confused if they are looking for the light, but it’s being aimed elsewhere at a ghost? I’m sorry, but lighthouse keepers simply do not seem like the most efficient ghost hunters.

To be fair, the book tries to answer many questions that I had. For example, one ghost does make it under the light with relative ease, so, yes, these beams are not effective because they cannot angle down. Later, when a character explains that the beams must have been used for ghost disintegrating because for their intensity, another character points out that the modern day has far more intense lights everywhere–so ghosts should be nonexistent, yet they are not. The book then says something about how the light must be extremely focused, so the light bulb in one’s kitchen must not good enough. In other words, Kenneth Oppel seems to have considered these problems, too. I just still think lighthouse keepers wildly swinging their beams around to zap ghosts is one of the most ridiculous premises I have ever seen.

Other readers, of course, may think differently–either not caring about how weird this is, or finding it delightfully amusing. In this case, the book is full of fast-paced action sure to grip readers. Oppel also intertwines a bit of Canadian history into the story, making it feel somewhat educational as well as fun.

Fans of Kenneth Oppel will no doubt want to pick this one up, as it contains his signature action and invention, while giving it a slightly spooky twist. I have seen similar ghost hunting books done a bit better, but, when fall comes around, it is always nice to have a book like this on hand.

3 Stars

3 thoughts on “Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel

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