Ghost Files by April Baker
Synposis: Sixteen year old Mattie Hathaway likes to pretend she’s normal, but she’s not. She sees ghosts. But when the ghost of her foster sister appears to her at a party, she teams up with with a young police officer to investigate what happened to Sally.
Overall Story Quality: The story utilizes a number of themes that are very common in fiction and TV but combine them in a way that feels fresh and interesting. There are a few points where the real life elements of the story that aren’t realistic, but overall they didn’t take me too far out of the story. When it comes to the foster children missing and showing up as ghosts to Mattie, I did not feel like I got to know them well enough to even distinguish which ghost is which. But overall these weaknesses didn’t stop me from reading. I very much found this to be a fun read.
Quality of the Prose: The prose is engaging, vivid and easily understood. There are definite elements of telling that frequently occur but Mattie’s voice is very engaging in interesting. The weakness with the telling is that Mattie often describes herself in ways that explain why she’s doing something now, but which we have not witnessed in her character before. Sometimes these descriptions are inconsistent. Sometimes they’re repetitive. Even with the inconsistencies and repetitiveness, I would say her voice and actions do create a solid character.
The book would definitely benefit from a third party editing for grammar and style. It is obvious this is a self published book. That said, the grammar errors are not so horrendous that they they wound the readability.
Genre: Teen Horror, Mystery, Criminal Investigation
Other: Most of the names of the teen characters in the story seem a bit old fashioned for their generation. I think the author would have benefited from googling trending names based on the year characters would have been born. It doesn’t even appear much thought was given into the names.
I also occasionally got the feeling that the author is attempting to turn Mattie into a role model rather deliberately. It’s a bit less subtle because the character engages in telling us her motivations a lot, explaining how things from Sunday school stuck with her.
There’s also a lot of attraction and flirting between characters that are below the age of consent and those beyond it. There’s definite sexual attraction between Mattie (a 16 year old) and Officer Dan. The author tries to make Officer Dan as young as she thinks she can. He’s still over 18, but all his age does it make it feel unrealistic he’d have the job he currently has. It doesn’t undo the creepiness of realizing you’re rooting for a 16 year old to end up with someone too old for her.