Can 12-year-old Aurelie possibly save her family’s deteriorating amusement-park-on-a-pier from evil Lucien B. Crook, even with help from some ghostly relatives?
Aurelie, refreshingly capable of embracing her unusual way of life and surrounded by a cast of quirky kin, faces incessant bullying at school, mostly from a pair of smarmy classmates, abetted by Rufus, the misguided (bullied as well as bullying) son of the obsequious mayor, Finnigus Bog. Blackmailed by ruthless real-estate mogul Crook, the mayor is conspiring to engineer the downfall of Gribblesea Pier. Aurelie’s relatives, many of them exceedingly lively ghosts, have a few tricks up their sleeves, but it will take more than their capable efforts to defeat Crook’s team. Characters abound, many of them defined mostly by their humorous names rather than by any significant descriptive development. The plot races along at a breakneck pace, leaving little room for nuance, yet never quite hitting a stride of madcap silliness either. Subplots—Uncle Rolo’s long-abandoned love affair, the bullying Aurelie faces at school, Rufus’ problems with his father—add a little depth but mostly remain unresolved. Even the paranormal aspects of the tale are never fully plumbed; the ghosts are neither sufficiently ghostly to be interesting nor wacky enough to be funny, although humor seems to be the goal.
A fast-paced, mildly funny, never-quite-suspenseful tale that lacks a magical spark. (Paranormal adventure. 10-14)