Young ghost hunters barely start their search for a magical artifact in this fragmentary series opener.
In the wake of a destructive dustup with ghosts in the surprisingly rich rare-book room of their suburban public library, classmates Jay, Pam, Danni and Brian find themselves in a race with shadowy but plainly evil opponents. Their mutual goal is to track down a crystal that can summon and control the spirits of the dead. First, though, they have to secure a certain Key by puzzling out cryptic rhymes that lead in apparently arbitrary fashion to grave markers, nearby crop circles and a local medium. A climactic spectral attack adds a bit of drama, though it leaves the quartet at the end no closer to the Key—much less the sub-titular glass. Along with page images of stodgy background from an “Encyclopedia of the Paranormal” (evidently a fictional one, not to be confused with the two actual reference sources bearing that title), some illustrations look blank until a small, included (and easily lost) square of lenticular plastic is laid over to reveal hidden messages or pictures.The gimmick doesn’t compensate for an overall lack of internal logic, lazy plotting and “clues” that lead nowhere. (Fantasy. 10-12)