- Rain of the Ghosts by Greg Weisman
Growing up in the tropical paradise of the Ghost Keys, a (fictional) chain of islands near the Bermuda Triangle, should be, well, paradise, but for twelve-year-old Rain Cacique, it feels more like a life sentence that dooms her to a future of bending over backwards for ungrateful tourists and never seeing what the rest of the world might offer. Her beloved grandfather, ‘Bastian, is the bright spot in her world, so when he passes away, Rain immediately attributes her newfound ability to see dead people (including the spirit of her grandfather as a young fighter pilot) to grief. Eventually, however, ‘Bastian is able to convince her that he is really there, that she needs to help him put other spirits to rest, and that the golden armband he left her, the zemi, is actually one of the keys to the mysteries of the Ghost Islands. Narrated by a canine spirit that serves as one of the many guardians of the islands, this is a delightfully odd but entirely satisfying blend of family drama, ghost story, and unexpected fantasy. Despite the Ghost Keys’ fictional status, Weisman weaves in both the class and race issues (Rain’s family are clearly natives of the island and her best friend is African American) that plague Rain’s village, dependent as it is on tourism from wealthier folks, but the author never overburdens his plot with anything too preachy and instead focuses on the adventure. The action delivers in spades, culminating with Rain piloting an old World War II fighter plane through a hurricane along with the ghosts and the skeletal remains of several soldiers. Savvy kids will spot the allusions to The Tempest, and the concluding reveal that Rain has only found one of nine secret keys will have all readers booking a return trip to the Ghosts for the sequel.