In this supernatural debut, a professor and his team of ghost hunters help restless spirits in an abandoned mental hospital.
Professor Roy Donnelly runs the astrophysics department at Duncan University. Lonely since his wife, Margaret, died two years ago, he finds solace working alongside Brad, his brilliant assistant. Brad, inventor of a special camera called the Blue Viewer, brings the professor with him to an old mine shaft to test the device deep in darkness. Through the viewer, they witness and record the astonishing presence of ghosts—spectral remnants of miners who died in an accident in the 1890s. Brad’s excitement leads him to enlist a young group of supernatural enthusiasts called the Specter Inspectors—Kevin, June and Daniel—to help explore the phenomenon further. They lead Brad and the professor to the Murrydale Regional State Hospital, where a mass murder occurred in the 1950s. There, the group encounters not only a population of ghosts suffering in turmoil, but also their tormentor—a spindly, pitch-black creature that drains spectral energy. After the terrifying incident, the professor and his team have nightmares in which the black creature demands that “Jacob” be handed over. Can the rigorous application of science help bring this mystery figure to light and ease the spirits’ pain? Author E.L.I. writes a love letter to science and the supernatural in this tightly constructed debut. The details of how these spirits exist are as complex as they are lovely; one, for example, appears to be “made of some type of light-blue plastic pressed so thin it is nearly transparent and the hollow center is filled with a milky white fog consisting of little twinkling white lights.” Elsewhere are superficial similarities to the Ghostbusters films, such as the “Recharger” gun and special “Blue View” glasses. But this isn’t really an action story; the narrative is a sweet one, more concerned with reconciling spirituality with the idea that a scientist shouldn’t ever claim to know everything. As the professor says, “[T]he more I learn about the universe, the greater the reality that I know so little about the universe”—a great reminder for children and adults alike.
A lesson in smart, assured storytelling.