Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (September 29, 2009)
Source: Ksenia at Feiwel and Friends via Shelf Awareness
Belladonna Johnson can see ghosts. It’s a trait she’s inherited from her mother’s side of the family, like blue eyes or straight hair...It is convenient, though, after Belladonna’s parents are killed in a car accident. They can live with her the same as always, watching the same old TV shows in their same old house. Nothing has changed . . . until everything changes.
One night, with no warning, they vanish into thin air - along with every other ghost in the world. It’s what some people think ghosts are supposed to do, but Belladonna knows it’s all wrong. They may not be living, but they’re not supposed to be gone. With the help of her classmate Steve, a master of sneaking and spying, Belladonna is left to uncover what’s become of the spirits and to navigate a whole world her parents have kept well-hidden. If she can’t find her way, she’ll lose them again - this time for good.
This was a cute book that I read in a few hours, as I didn't want to set it down. Belladonna makes a good heroine, and I enjoyed her growing friendship with Steve and how they learned to work together. They were joined in their adventure by Elsie, one of the few remaining ghosts left.
One minor thing that annoyed me is how almost every child in YA fiction would rather jump into the deep end rather than ask adults for help. Granted, Belladonna's grandmother and aunt kept blowing her off when she tried to talk to them, but I'm sure they would have listened had she told them the important stuff!
I did like that Belladonna, Steve, and Elsie did not have all the answers and seemed like believable 12 year olds, getting cranky when things didn't work out and bickering at each other when they were frustrated and tired. Even though Elsie was a ghost, she was still a girl and I enjoyed the trio's growing friendship.
Gave this one a 4/5 rating as I enjoyed the story, liked the characters, and thought that overall it was well done. There were a few references I'm not sure the 9-12 age group would understand (Paladin, the Wild Hunt, oracles, etc.) but they can always check online. I'm looking forward to a sequel, as Ms. Stringer left the ending open enough for another adventure! If you enjoy YA books at all, I recommend this one!