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Spirit Hunters

Review

Spirit Hunters

Ellen Oh’s debut middle grade novel, SPIRIT HUNTERS, introduces readers to Harper Raine, who has just moved with her family to a very old house in Washington D.C. Strange things begin to occur in the house and Harper’s little brother starts acting out after talking about his new imaginary friend, Billy. As things begin to escalate with her brother, Harper struggles with her family's refusal to believe her account of the strange events.

"SPIRIT HUNTERS is extremely entertaining and drew me in right from the beginning with its dark tones and atmosphere."

The story is quite a bit darker than I was expecting. There are some more mature themes such as self harm and mental illness. But I was most interested in seeing the topic of racism interwoven into a middle grade novel. It is an age category where many children of diverse backgrounds begin to understand what prejudice is and I liked how Ellen Oh addressed this.

SPIRIT HUNTERS is extremely entertaining and drew me in right from the beginning with its dark tones and atmosphere. It was a fun adventure story as Harper tries to remedy the situation with her brother and get rid of the spirits residing in her house. It truly kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen next with the family.

The story is told with alternating chapters of traditional narration and journal entries. The journal entries are written by Harper as a way to cope with the move as directed by her therapist. They add greatly to her character and have a great voice. But because the journal entries are first person and the story is in third person it was always disruptive to reading because it took time to adjust to the new perspective every single chapter. The third person perspective also made it weird when Harper’s mother was referenced by her first name instead of Mom. It felt very detached and much more mature than a middle grade novel.

The ending of the story felt rushed after the introduction of a few characters and ended in a way that was a bit too clean. But I think SPIRIT HUNTERS has great series potential following Harper as she learns more about her gifts and trains to become a spirit hunter like her grandmother. I would love to read more about this world in future books.

Reviewed by Dana Cuadrado on July 26, 2017

Spirit Hunters
by Ellen Oh

  • Publication Date: July 25, 2017
  • Genres: Children's 8-12, Family, Fiction, Horror
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • ISBN-10: 0062430084
  • ISBN-13: 9780062430083