Title: I was a Teenage Ghost Hunter
Author: Brian Henry
Published by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
Publication date: June 11th 2017
Genre: Young Adult/Occult horror
Moody sixteen-year-old barista Devin Mulwray is doing his best to ignore bizarre manifestations at his job in the chilly Northern California town of Arcata. Already teased about his recurrent ‘phase-outs’, the last thing he needs is to get pegged as a guy who sees ghosts. It doesn’t help his state of mind that his boss is a sarcastic slacker, his single dad is always on the road with clients and local occult fan girl Nayra is spreading ‘ghost boy’ rumors about him online.
But when violent paranormal activity badly spooks teens at an abandoned estate, Devin’s pushed into investigating by his eccentric friends Clive, a budding composer, and Rex, a tech head excited by ghost hunting gadgetry. At first reluctant to get involved, Devin’s encouraged when Emily, one of the more empathetic girls at Grey Bluff High, is impressed with his daring.
Together the friends explore the creepy Rousten manor. But as the only person able to perceive the manifestations, Devin soon finds himself going one-on-one against a powerful spirit who attacks the locals and infiltrates Devin’s own dreams.
I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this book by Brian Henry in return for an honest review. My thanks to the author for giving me this fantastic read. There was a formatting error in the copy I was given, I have made the author aware of this and it won’t be effecting my review.
I initially had some apprehension about reading I was a Teenage Ghost Hunter, partially because my teenage years are long behind me and I am not amongst the target audience for the book. My other dips into this genre haven’t always yielded positive results but when asked to read and review a book by an author I always try and fulfil my end of the bargain. I am actually rather upset with myself that I put this read off for so long as I throughly enjoyed it.
I felt a connection with the rather hard-done-by Devin; he’s able to see ghosts and if that wasn’t bad enough he works in a cafe with a lazy boss, has some really odd ‘friends’ who post about his spooky antics on the internet resulting in him being down trodden at school. He’s clearly the odd one out! All these things made him a very real and relatable character and I enjoyed the page time spent with him. Along on the ghost train ride with Devin are his friends, Clive and Rex, both having their own wonderful personalities which complete the ghost-hunting trio. They’re all very unique characters in their own way and reading about them and their story together – and apart – was nothing short of a pleasure. Clive and Rex add a welcome sense of fun to the novel and without them I was a Teenage Ghost Hunter wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable as it was, they brought a lot to their table with their wild antics. I could easily picture each of the characters within the story, from the main cast to the supporting characters; Ramona (the lazy boss) and the eccentric Nayra; the local ghost-hunting/occult buff. It’s always a job well done when a character can vividly insert themselves into your imagination and I think this is a real strong point of the novel.
I was a Teenage Ghost Hunter is set in the Californian town of Arcata – a real town I believe – and mostly within the long abandoned Rousten manor house – I don’t think this is real. The back story of the manor is entirely believable and the reasoning for the new-wave of hauntings within equally so; when they are revealed. Until the reveal the reader is taken on an incredible mystery tour that left me guessing as to the reason behind all the ghostly happenings. I didn’t feel like there was anything out of place in the modern day setting, but I was a little incredulous about the old manor house not having been looted for goodies by less savoury people amongst society.
Some of the events within I was a Teenage Ghost Hunter I found more humourous than scary – but maybe this is where I didn’t quite hit the target audience mark? Younger readers will be encouraged by such scenes I am sure and while I found them mildly entertaining I didn’t find them quite as enjoyable as others might.
I did find the story a little slow to get into the real depths of. I think this is due to a lot of scene setting in the first half of the book. As such the pace really sets off in the second half and I was a Teenage Ghost Hunter really picks up and becomes a much better read so if you struggle with the first half it’s well worth sticking with because it becomes a great read and a much more enjoyable story once the scene has been set and the plot gains traction.
Overall I enjoyed this read. I don’t know how well it fits into it’s intended audiences reading brackets and some younger readers might get a bit fed up with the slow build, but Devin is a real treat to read about and Brian Henry has created some very wonderful and quirky characters to engage with. I know there is a follow up to this novel (I was a Teenage Ghost Hunter II) and when my reading list has trimmed down I am tempted to revist Devin and see what he gets up to next.