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Ghoul Strike!

Review

Ghoul Strike!

Do you know what to do if your mansion becomes ghost-infested? The Seventh Earl of Pittingham does: he contacts a ghosthunter through her very persuasive website, www.goawayghosts.com, which lets him know that no ghost or ghoul is too scary for the intrepid young psychic and ghosthunter, Alannah Malarra. She can see otherwordly beings that other humans only sense in the vaguest way. But they are completely visible to Alannah, who is able to send them on their way with a mere flick of her fingers. Of course, since she is no ordinary girl, her fingers shoot fearsome sparks at the ghosts, turning them to goo.

Alannah’s unwilling accomplice in all her ghost hunting is her friend, Wortley Flint, who is frequently pressed into service as a burglar. Alannah needs a burglar for an accomplice because she doesn’t just take on a case in the usual way; she actually likes to break into the ghost-infested homes to rid them of their spirits. In fact, homeowners rarely know of Alannah’s involvement in their case other than for noticing that their homes have suddenly become ghost-free.

Alannah and Wortley never charge the homeowners a penny for their services, yet they are amassing a sizeable income through their ghostbusting activities. The truth of the matter is that Alannah has realized that akin to the dragons of lore, ghosts always guard treasure. When she banishes the ghosts, Alannah claims the treasure for herself, reasoning that the treasure she takes from the home is rarely something that the homeowner even knows about, hoarded as it has been for decades or even centuries by the spirit in residence.

The reason the 12-year-old is in such urgent need of a fortune is that her parents, Ben and Sadie Malarra, famed psychics themselves, have gone missing about a year previously. Now Alannah and Wortley live in the Malarra home with Wortley’s mother, Mrs. Flint, the Malarras’ housekeeper. Alannah is collecting money from ghosts to look for her parents. Alannah especially needs her parents at that moment as she is coming into the full extent of her powers, and she has no one to guide her through the process.

At the behest of the Earl of Pittingham, Alannah and Wortley break into the Pittingham Manor to find something much worse than ghosts there. It turns out that the mansion hides a portal to the Dark Dimension that has been opened. Hordes of demons are pouring through the walls, preparing for an attack on High and pausing at the midway point, which happens to be the Manor.

Intrepid and supernaturally blessed though she is, Alannah is no match for the scariest Malevolents that come through the portal. Luckily, she has help from another dimension in the form of A.N.G.E.L. Inspector Flhi Swift and her sidekicks, the aptly named Yell and Gloom, Evanescents from another dimension. These are not heavenly angels, but Attack-ready Network of Global Evanescent Law-enforcers (get it?) whose job it is to protect the Earthly Dimension from any demon attacks.

GHOUL STRIKE! is packed to the brim with interesting characters and edge-of-your-seat action. Bold Alannah and the more retiring Wortley bicker constantly, yet come through for each other in spades, showcasing a warm and funny friendship that lends a lot of humor to the story. It appears that Flhi has never met an Evanescent rule she hasn’t broken, yet she’s a very appealing hero who never lets her comrades down. Although Alannah, Wortley and Flhi are the most fleshed-out characters, GHOUL STRIKE! is populated by many other interesting human and non-human creatures as well.

At first glance, Alannah and Flhi seem reminiscent of Artemis Fowl and his L.E.P.Recon friend, Holly Short, down to the brusque and sometimes high-handed manner of the teenage fortune hunter and the immense gadgetry possessed by the otherworldly ally. But GHOUL STRIKE! is a winner in its own right, and will appeal to any kid looking for a particularly action- and gadget-packed, humorous, supernatural story featuring two strong female leads.

Reviewed by Usha Reynolds on October 1, 2010

Ghoul Strike!
by Andrew Newbound

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2010
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The Chicken House
  • ISBN-10: 0545229383
  • ISBN-13: 9780545229388