Among the Ghosts by Amber Benson is a cute novel written for tweenagers about a young girl called Noh (real name Noleen-Anne Harris Morgan Maypother) who goes to live with her aunt Sarah at the New Newbridge Academy for the summer. She is virtually an orphan—her mother having died before the novel begins and her father too often traveling with his own scientific research to give his daughter the attention she needs. Shortly before she arrives, Noh discovers that she is able to not only see but communicate with ghosts. And the ghosts are disappearing.
Benson tells a good story and I love her use of metaphor. This is not a sophisticated story and there are flaws within the text. (Had I read the manuscript, Benson would have received notes about how can a ghost that cannot feel be scratching a sore spot that doesn’t really hurt? (35) Does she mean that the sore doesn’t hurt? If so, don’t call it a sore spot because now it is a spot that is sore and either it hurts or doesn’t. And I’m not sure how Trina, on page 141, can follow ghost footsteps even if they are her own. Are ghosts in the habit of leaving physical impressions in the ground? Does that make any sense? And Catherine Anne is said to “break the code” on page 175 when, really, she broke nothing; all she did is reveal the writing.)
But the target audience will probably not notice nor care and I am being nitpicky. Blame it on the fact that I am working on editing a manuscript for someone and am in editorial mode. In spite of these flaws, none of which are weighty enough to devalue the novel as a whole, it is a well told story and Benson does a good job of offering the type of open ended closure that is both satisfying without being too much of a cliff-hanger. I think it’s a safe thing to say that, should the novel sell well, there will be more novels to follow as Noh explores her new powers, as she meets new ghosts along the way, and hopefully as she fulfills a promise she makes in this one. Certainly, Benson makes a promise to her readers on page one that she meets with grace and ease. I enjoyed this book.
(On an aside, I found the ants, although relevant to the story, annoying and distracting. Mostly because I have a phobia and even tiny ants drawn on a page make me itchy. I found myself scratching as my skin constantly crawled with imaginary insects. Hopefully, if this is the first in a series of books, the ants won’t play so large a role and won’t appear on so many pages. Ick.)