Rain of the Ghosts by Greg Weisman
Published by St. Martin’s Griffrin, December 3, 2013. Softcover of 205 pages at $9.99. Intended for young adult readers.
NOTE: There is also 21 page preview from the sequel, Spirits of Ash and Foam.
The cover: The designer of this image is Lisa Marie Pompilio, using the background from sudari/Shutterstock, the airplane from Truyen Vu/Shutterstock, rocky mountain with girl from Terri Bidgood/Trevillion Images, and the gold snakes intertwined from Peter Bollinger. It’s a movie poster quality image, with plenty of suggestions but nothing explicit. This is the type of cover I enjoy the most. Once I finished the book, I recognized what each element represented. Overall grade: A
The premise: From the back cover, “Welcome to the Prospero Keyes (or the locals call them: the Ghost Keys), a beautiful chain of tropical islands on the edge of the Bermuda Triangle. Rain Cacique is water-skiing with her two best friends, Charlie and Miranda, when Rain sees her father waiting for her at the dock. Sebastian Bohique, her materanl grandfather, has passed away. He was the only person who ever made Rain feel special. The only one who believed she could do something important with her life. The only things she has left to remember him by is the armband he used to wear; two gold snakes intertwined, clasping each other tails in their mouths. Only the armband…and the gift it brings: Rain can see dead people. Starting with the Dark Man: a ghost determined to reveal the Ghost Keys’ hidden world of mystery, mysticism, intrigue, and adventure.” A unique setting with an older girl that has the abilities of the child from The Sixth Sense seems like a quick summary of this premise. I’m interested with seeing how an older child deals with the ability to see dead people and I’m interested to see what qualifies as mystical in this story. Sadly, the grandfather’s passing is a major spoiler, though it does occur fairly early in this tale. Overall grade: A-
The characters: Rain Cacique is a strong protagonist, who makes quick decisions and wants to do what’s right. She’s very likable, instantly enamoring herself to readers after going with her friend Charlie Dauphin to a secret place and a quick scene with her grandfather. Her new found ability to see and speak with the dead has her growing quickly as a character, making her more adventurous than usual. Chapter 18 has the premise for her further adventures stated, and I look forward to reading them. Her friend Charlie is a good reality check, as he cannot see nor hear those Rain is having issues with. He was a good everyman character and his ride with her in the end was good. Rain’s grandfather was a spectacular character whose one scene with her had me instantly liking him. He was taken too soon from the story. The villains of the piece come twofold: the ominous Dark Man who is obviously a spirit that wants something and frightens the tar out of Rain and readers, and Callahan a bulky six foot tall Aussie whose visit to the Nitanino Inn is not to just bed for the night. This was a good cast that grew as the story progressed and could grow further in future outings. Overall grade: A
The settings: The fictional Ghost Keys, located between Florida and Cuba, are an outstanding location. It is a series of heavily jungled islands that makes its money off the tourism. This is an instantly recognizable location by any reader and they are fantastic. There is the quaint town that one would expect, hidden places lost to the jungles, and freezing waters that separate them. The desciprtions of these places are vivid and one can feel and taste them as they read. Overall grade: A+
The action: The novel, being the first in a series, is a slow burn. Once she has the armband, the action begins for Rain. I like how little clues are given so that young readers can guess what’s to occur, and the mystery of what the Dark Man is and what he wants is sensational. I was instantly won over by Chapters 14 and 15, though the major event that happens after this is expected and is fairly unsurprising, but younger readers may find such an action new. Overall grade: A-
The conclusion: The ending is sastisfactory, with a reader able to stop here and feel fulfilled, but there are further adventures for Rain, and Chapter 18 shows where she is heading. Overall grade: A
The final line: An entertaining read with a strong female lead whose unique abilities has her headed into a world of adventure. Overall grade: A
NOTE: A Kickstarter campaign is in the process of raising $43,000 to complete an audio recording of this book. The voice work is completed, with a cast of twenty actors including Thom Adcox, Edward Asner, Jeff Bennett, Steve Blum, Jim Cummings, Marina Sirtis, and Brent Spiner. The money is needed to complete the post-production (edit the vocal tracks, and create and mix all the music–provided by Dynamic Music Partners–and sound effects) so that it’s a studio-quality production wthout any studio backing or interference. As of April 12, $22,120 had raised.
If you’re interested in contributing, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1693681637/rain-of-the-ghosts-full-cast-audioplay