Monday, 31 August 2015

Ghosts of Shanghai by Julian Sedgwick

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 360
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Released: 2nd of July 2015

Obsessed with martial arts and ghost stories, Ruby is part of a gang of Chinese and ex-pat children who hide out in ruined White Cloud Temple. 

But the world of Shanghai in the late 1920s is driven with danger: disease, crime, espionage and revolution are sweeping the streets. And since the death of her younger brother Thomas, Ruby is stalked by another anxiety and fear. Faced with a series of local hauntings, and armed with a lucky bookshop find - The Almanac of Distant Realms - Ruby forms the Shanghai Ghost Club to hunt down restless spirits.

 When best friend Faye is kidnapped by the Green Hand, Ruby must trust a mysterious stranger - and face her worst fears - in order to save her friends, and her own life. And in the ensuing fight she will catch a glimpse of the one spirit she has longed to see

 ...The secrets that Ruby's father and friends have kept from her are coming back to haunt them all

What I Have to Say 

This book has so many different threads to the story. It has the wonderful group of ghost hunting children that makes the basic idea of the book, but it's quickly overturned by the start of Communism in China. Ruby and her friends have to face the disturbances in their city and it shows how hard it was during this time, not only for Faye, a Chinese girl, but Ruby, a foreigner trying to save her. 

There's also the fact of Ruby's brother, who has been killed previously to the start of the book. Ruby is facing trauma, guilt and sadness over her brother's death. This all gives her one more thing to cope with and another layer to the story. 

This is a middle grade ghost story, but shows so many more human threats that the group face, that to be honest, the ghosts are a little lost in the story. Though I liked this, others may not. Personally I loved looking at 1920s China through a young girls eyes. 

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