Knopf. Sept. 2022. 400p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593487938.
Gr 4-7–Gabe’s summer job leading ghost tours at a Toronto amusement park takes an unexpected turn: he summons an actual ghost, Rebecca, who died in 1839. She and her father were murdered by Nicholas Viker, a villainous ghost who consumes his enemies. Rebecca wants Gabe to help save what’s left of her father’s spirit, and Gabe learns of Viker’s plan to destroy modern-day Toronto and all its residents. On Viker’s side? A dark universe with an army of the “wicked and wakeful dead.” Team Gabe? Ghostly Rebecca, Gabe’s uber-mechanic friend Yuri, and daring ghost blogger Callie. The four 16-year-olds (Rebecca’s a teen spirit) take readers along on a thrill ride of a plot packed with harrowing escapes, puzzling mysteries, and Viker in hot pursuit at every turn. Along with the action, master storyteller Oppel adds depth through memorable characters. Yuri’s family emigrated from Russia and faces challenges assimilating in a new country. Gabe struggles with anger toward his deceased father who left the family for another woman. Callie, who is of Indian descent, brings contagious enthusiasm for the wealth of historical facts Oppel seamlessly weaves into the narrative. Callie observes, “Ghost stories are kind of like history class, only better.” The novel’s satisfying conclusion leaves the door open to more ghostly adventures.
VERDICT Oppel’s latest begs to be made into a movie: visually cinematic with witty humor, nonstop action, a dash of romance, and plenty of heart. A first purchase for all middle grade collections.

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