The Dial-a-Ghost Agency finds good homes for ghosts. And Fulton and Frieda Snodde-Brittle are looking for a few frightening ghosts to "accidentally" scare their young cousin and heir, Oliver, to death. The ladies at the Dial-a-Ghost Agency have the perfect match: the Shriekers, two bloodstained and bickering horrors. But thanks to a mix-up at the agency, the Wilkinsons, a kind family of ghosts, arrive instead. Can they put a stop to the Snodde-Brittles' schemes before it's too late? (from Goodreads)
This is a real cutie-patootie book, one of those adorable ones that make you feel all gooey inside when you read them. In a good way, though! It’s not deliberately trying to manipulate the heartstrings, like some really bad TV movie. It’s just totally adorable on its own merits.
So what’s so cute about Dial-a-Ghost? I’m so glad you asked!
1: The Dial-a-Ghost agency, which finds homes for ghosts! I love that the world of Dial-A-Ghost is full of people who want a nice spook running around their attic wailing. It’s got a tinge of that darker sense of humor Eva Ibbotson sometimes sticks in her books, which I adore.
2: The ghost family, the Wilkinsons. Nicer dead people you’ve never met, and the way they take charge of Oliver and help him gain confidence/a sense of purpose/etc. made my heart melt.
3: Oliver himself! Eva Ibbotson usually does stick some character development in her stories, though it’s not always an enormous change. In Oliver’s case, though, he goes from a sweet (if somewhat timid) kid to future lord-of-the-manor (in a good way). It’s very satisfying to watch him kick butt in the last part of the book.
That said, though it’s totally adorable and squishy and I loves it, my precious, Dial-a-Ghost has got sharp edges as well. Oliver’s murderous aunt and uncle, for example, are truly terrifying. They’re trying to scare him to death, after all! And the Shriekers are horrendous as well– they murder children wherever they go! Body parts drop off them at random intervals! etc.!
So, really, it’s a ghost story with a happy ending. It has attempted murder, infanticide, etc., yes, but also happy families and growing up and gaining lots of self-worth! Definitely be sure to check it out if you’re a fan of sweet/sinister stories like me.
Read: October 4-5, 2013