Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Coming of the Spirits: the ghostly conclusion to a delightful journey

 Title: The Coming of the Spirits
Series: The Spirits series
Author: Rob Keeley
Genre: MG Fantasy
Pages: 144
Published: 2018
Buy The Coming of the Spirits
Buy Childish Spirits (#1 in the Spirits series)

What Goodreads has to say:

The final book in the award-winning Spirits series.

Sequel to High Spirits – Georgina Hawtrey-Woore Award winner 2018.

Rob Keeley is back with the fifth and final instalment in his award-winning Spirits series. The series allows young people to learn more about other times, as well as the time in which they live.

“Nazis alone were dangerous enough, but Nazis with the powers of ghosts... of evil spirits...”

Britain. The present day. The world we know. Ruled by the Nazis.
Victorian England. Edward Fitzberranger is soon to become ill and die. But could there be another way?
The Middle Ages. Sir Francis Fitzberranger is about to marry... but finds himself shifted in time.

The barrier into the spirit world is finally breaking down and no one in the mortal world is safe. History must be set back on course and prophecies fulfilled. The Grand Defender is needed.

As Ellie works with an underground resistance movement and with the spirit world too, she is about to discover her true destiny...

What I have to say:

Here we are at last: the final book of Rob Keeley's thrilling and adorable Spirits series. True to form, I read this in one sitting. These books are like shot glasses. You down them fast because they're so good and so compelling. And just like its predecessors, The Coming of the Spirits is a page-turner, full of charm, adventure, and countless surprises.

When I say surprises, I mean all the surprises. There are so many twists and turns in this story, I never guessed what was coming next. Well, OK, I did guess one thing right, and that was regarding my favorite character in the series, Edward Fitzberranger. Happily, Edward has a significant role to play in this story, and I very much enjoyed that.

But on the whole, it was full of as many surprises and plot twists as you can hope for in a series conclusion. I was on board for almost all of them, though I found the ending a little jarring. That may have just been me. I also found it heartbreaking, which is a measure of just how attached I've become to Rob Keeley's wonderful characters.

But let's back up. The beginning of this book is pretty epic. A mysterious figure gathers all of Ellie's ghostly friends (and one corporeal one) from the previous books to assist in a crucial mission. We don't know what that mission is, and neither does Ellie. She just wants to live a normal life and maybe go on some dates with her friend Luke, but alas, book heroines never get to lead a normal life, and boy am I glad of that.

As usual, I found the characters, both old and new, fun and charming. Not to sound like a broken record, but I was absolutely gleeful when Edward made his dramatic appearance. Even if I was expecting it, it was nonetheless awesome. And now I'll try not to talk about Edward for the rest of this review.

This is definitely the most dystopian of the Spirits novels. We're in a new world ruled by Nazis where no one is safe, and to make matters worse, evil ghosts get loose about halfway through, and then everyone's pretty much just a dead man walking... unless Ellie can fix things. 

There are also some complicated moral dilemmas in this book, for example, is it OK to steal money from your friends if you're going to use it to save the world? So things get pretty intense. In fact, this is definitely the most intense of the Spirit novels as well. Things may have been a little spooky before, but now Ellie's really in trouble and there's probably no going back.

I never imagined where this series would lead when I first found myself riveted and charmed by the delightful Childish Spirits. Looking back, I think that first book is still my favorite, simply because it was perfect. But I've enjoyed the whole journey with Ellie and her friends, and I'm glad I got to ride this ghost train to the end.


Until tomorrow.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

"Kill Order" a Short Story prequel to "Death by Midnight"

 Kill Order

by Nicole Nadeau

Kill Order by Nicole Nadeau is a short story prequel to her novel Death by Midnight. The story gives the reader a front row seat to Ivan Komarov's inner turmoil over being the son his father wants, and being himself. 

The story begins with Ivan trailing a woman through the streets of a town in Siberia, Russia on December 23rd. He feels nothing as he tracks her movements, and eventually aids his father's goons in her kidnapping. To him she's just another jump he has to make to please his father, until he's asked to end her life. Suddenly Ivan isn't sure about his father's rules, the gun feels heavy and cold in his hands, and he stares with numb horror at the woman sobbing on the ground. It's at this pivotal moment that Ivan chooses himself over his father's commands. He lowers the gun, only to watch the woman be murdered by his father. 

The narrative continues as Alexei (Ivan's father) advances with his plan - a meeting with a blackmailed doctor who believes he is getting his wife back in return for a briefcase filled with an unknown item. The switch takes place on Christmas day, illustrating just how little Alexei cares for others, including his own son. While Christmas is usually a time for family and joy, the Komarovs' is filled with death and deceit, anything to bring Alexei closer to his revenge. 

I thought the story did a good job of further showing how different Ivan is from Alexei. They may be related, and have many of the same ideals, but Ivan is not his father. Ivan has not yet murdered an innocent in cold blood. Even though he has been raised to be a carbon copy of his father, Ivan is not. He is uniquely himself, and he can be redeemed. 

Ivan definitely has some Draco Malfoy vibes going on, although I feel that Lucius is a much better father than Alexei, which is saying something. Maybe having a living wife helps. 

Rating: 4/5 trees. An excellent prequel to an excellent story.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

When you read a book in one sitting: Rob Keeley's MG thriller 'High Spirits'

Title: High Spirits
Series: The Spirits series
Author: Rob Keeley
Genre: MG Fantasy
Pages: 129
Published: 2017
Buy Childish Spirits (#1 in the Spirits series)

What Goodreads has to say:

“Millions of people will die in the war, Ellie. And it’s our job to make sure it happens. That’s why our work isn’t easy.”

It’s been two years since Ellie last spoke to Edward. She thinks she’s left the spirit world behind. But the spirits won’t take no for an answer... When Ellie’s Mum returns to Inchwood Manor, Ellie finds herself going too... and is transported back to the 1930s, discovering a plot to impersonate the King of England.

With the Second World War coming, and the first evil spirits starting to escape into the mortal world, Ellie is fighting alongside some unexpected allies...

Rob Keeley is back with High Spirits, the fourth instalment in his multi-award-listed Spirits series. The series allows young people to learn more about other times, as well as the time in which they live.

What I have to say:

Have you ever started reading a book, and it's so fun and riveting that you just keep reading, and before you know it you've read the whole book and you haven't left your chair for like 3 hours?

Well, now I can add High Spirits to the list of books I've read in less than 24 hours. It's actually a pretty short list that includes Ella Enchanted, The Titan's Curse, and Gloria Whelan's Burying the Sun

Now, admittedly, High Spirits is not a long book, so it's not like it took me more than a few hours to read. But I've read books of the same length that took me forever to get through, so this is still an accomplishment.

As usual, Rob Keeley's absolutely perfect storytelling, quick dashes of humor, and ghostly surprises made this a joy to read.

In High Spirits, Ellie has to repair the damage she did trying to save her friends in the last book. She's gotten involved in the world of spirits, and now she has to see things through to the end. This time, that means saving England from falling into the wrong hands. As in all the Spirits novels, there's a lot at stake here, but possibly more than ever before. If Ellie fails, England will fall to a pair of shapeshifting spirits and German Nazis will take over the world.

OK yes, Nazis taking over is not exactly the most original plot line in the history of the world, but this is definitely a new spin on it and after all, when you need some token bad guys, who's better than Nazis? 

Luckily, this story is told in such a fun way and the action is so non-stop that I never felt like the plot line was stale or overdone. It introduces us to some new characters--well, new after a fashion. (Is it a new character if it's just a younger version of a character we've already met in the present?) My favorite was Clara Harvey, an outspoken young girl from the 1930s. I also liked her brother Tom. There's not much of my favorite ghost child Edward Fitzberranger in this one, but since I'm sure that will be rectified in the next novel, I won't lodge a complaint at this time.

And, typical of Rob Keeley's Spirits novels, High Spirits leaves off with a major cliffhanger, though this may be the biggest one to date. History has been rewritten, and once again, it looks like Ellie is the only one who can set things right. I'm excited to continue this delightful story in the final novel, The Coming of the Spirits.


Not sure how I could not give it 5 stars after admitting that I read it in one sitting.

Until tomorrow.