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GHOST MESSAGES by Jacqueline  Guest


by Jacqueline Guest

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: April 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55050-458-3
Publisher: Coteau Books

After 13-year-old Irish seer Ailish O'Connor’s father brings home a thuggish drinking acquaintance, Rufus Dalton, the evil man beats her “da” senseless and steals their only thing of value, a gold statuette. Ailish follows Dalton and inadvertently stows away on the Great Eastern, the largest ship of its day, just as it heads out on its 1865 voyage to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable. She overhears Dalton blackmailing an Irish crewmember, Paddy Whelan, with a newspaper photograph of him at a Fenian freedom fighters’ meeting. Ailish is befriended by a young riveter’s helper, Davy Jones. Frequent heavy-handed clues to his true nature abound, but Ailish, in spite of her second sight, is surprisingly oblivious, as she dresses as a boy, tries to hide her presence from the crew, searches for her stolen treasure and attempts to protect Paddy. While Ailish’s character is well-developed, the rest of the crew are stock characters; the good are very, very good, and the bad are terrifically evil. Details of the cable-laying effort provide a believable backdrop to Ailish’s adventure, even if the predictable plot and characters undermine the effort. While Davy adds a never-scary paranormal twist, Ailish’s multiple problems remain the primary focus of this only mildly exciting tale. (Paranormal historical fiction. 9-13)