Title: Spirit Hunters | Series: Spirit Hunters #1 | Author: Ellen Oh | Publisher: Harper Collins | Pub. Date: 2017-7-25 | Pages: 288 | ISBN13: 9780062430083 | Genre: Middle Grade Horror Mystery | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Library
We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh returns with Spirit Hunters, a high-stakes middle grade mystery series about Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother. A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn!
Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?
Spirit Hunters Review
Well, Spirit Hunters might have been my first book from Ellen Oh, but it won’t be my last. (As long as she’s doing more MG. No urge to read her YA stuff.) This was a seriously creepy middle-grade read that had me all wrapped up in what was going on. I started reading it with my eight year old, but at a chapter a night, by the time we hit the third chapter, I asked her if I could read a little bit ahead after she went to bed. Had to promise I’d still read it with her, but an agreement was reached. My ‘little bit ahead’ ended up being me finishing the book.
Spirit Hunters isn’t a perfect book. The dialogue isn’t fantastic. Some of the more intense scenes really felt like they were a bit much for something I would let a nine to twelve year old read.
But, then again, I read The Archived with my child when she was like 7 or so, so I have no room to talk. Still, I was definitely surprised at how dangerous things got for Harper. But I was happy too, because the way this book unfolds is a perfect path to my happy spot.
But even though things got intense, in other ways, this is a great middle grade horror. It’s an introduction to a basic, well-loved, horror story that’s got all the ‘boring bits’ pared away from it. Spirit Hunters thrusts you right into the middle of a situation that even a young reader can tell is not quite right, and quickly goes from there. My child thinks that Billy is just Michael’s imaginary friend. Just not a nice one. Goodness is she going to get a shock a few chapters from where we are together! There’s also no foul language or any type of adult scene that they shouldn’t encounter.
(side note: Slamming the book shut as you’re reading a line about a door slamming shut is a really, really mean trick to pull on a child and you should never, ever do it. I got scolded quite soundly for that little stunt by my kiddo.)
(second side note: There’s more than one slamming door scene in Spirit Hunters. She’s going to hurt me.)
As previously mentioned, the elements of Spirit Hunters are familiar ones. But Ellen Oh writes them with a flair that makes you want to keep reading.
I liked Harper’s sidekicks (both of them). I also liked the fact that it is Harper (and sidekicks) that ultimately fixes the problem. Yes, she has help from an ‘unexpected’ source, but the meat of the fix was on her. And she wasn’t super-powered, either. Without her friends’ assistance, she would have probably not made it out of the situation okay.
Spirit Hunters was a very enjoyable read, but your younger reader’s mileage may vary. You may want to pre-read the book to make sure you would consider it suitable for your child.