Ghostheart by Ananda Braxton-Smith

ghostheartAnanda Braxton-Smith

Secrets of Carrick #3

Walker Books Australia

ISBN: 978 1 742032 18 4 

Reviewed by Pearl Maya

Ghostheart was initially a challenging read. It is the third in the Secrets of Carrick series and while the story does stand alone, I think it would be of great benefit to read the other books prior to this one to get up to speed with the location, characters and culture. The second challenge was some of the expressions. Braxton-Smith is an obvious fan of Manx, the language of the Isle of Man and examples are scattered liberally throughout. Some of them are easy to work out the intention, while other terms are a bit more nuanced. Nonetheless, just like reading Shakespeare, once you get your ear in, things flow much better.

This is a book of myth and legend. There is some magic but it more pagan than Harry Potter in style. Life in the island village is determined by an intricate weaving of the implications of the Others – whether they are the scaan, harewitches, watersprites, wiggnagh, the Dead Isles and a myriad of other characters real or imagined – as well as the ever-present ocean. There are legends that determine where you should go, how you behave, what you should eat. Some of the community take them as guidelines, not so out protagonist Mally Crowal who takes them all very seriously – especially after the death of her friend Dodi.

Ghostheart is an adventure that follows Mally through the journey of her grief, facing up to her Frights (or panic attacks) and finding her place in her world. There is danger, fear, challenges, true-friends, love and laughter all to be experienced before Mally can find her peace. It is a great story in itself, and it’s life lessons are presented in a less patronising manner than some other books designed for young adults going through similar (if less dramatic) experiences.

While the writing style would suit more confident readers, younger readers who enjoy a challenge will also find a lot to enjoy in Ghostheart.

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