Divine Freaks (Kitty Slade)

Out of the hustle and bustle of the exciting and eccentric Portobello Market in London emerges the story of Kitty Slade, a girl with a strange secret. At age 13, Kitty develops the rare and decidedly bothersome (but kind of cool) condition of Phantorama – the ability to see ghosts.

She then finds herself being haunted relentlessly by one particular ghost who will not give up until his unfinished business is laid to rest. Together with her younger brother and sister, Kitty must work hard to solve the mysteries unfolding all around her to quieten her ghostly visitor, and manages to save her family home at the same time.

This book is contemporary, fun and never takes itself too seriously. There are some interesting quirks – the pages are peppered with Greek phrases from Kitty’s grandmother – and some truly nail-bitingly tense moments. However, I think the suspense could have been developed and heightened further in places: the sibling trio manage to escape from various scraps a little too easily sometimes. One may be forgiven for thinking this is a horror story for young readers, given the subject matter, but in fact it appears to be more of an adventure/mystery story masquerading as a horror, which excites far more than it scares.

The characters are sometimes painfully stereotypical in their descriptions and dialogue, but there is also a nice sense of camaraderie developed between the children throughout the book. Fiona Dunbar has written a number of successful trilogies for young readers and this book promises to be the first of another set, with the second Kitty Slade adventure due out later this year.