Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

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Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.

Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

THIS IS A SPOILER FREE REVIEW

What an enchanting read!  I was very pleasantly surprised by the maturity and depth of Ghost Talkers.  It’s a story about love and patriotism and letting go and standing tall.  I loved the backdrop of WWI Europe and the vivid world of the Spirit Corps, but Ginger was what made it all come alive.  She was a brilliant main character and I thoroughly enjoyed her story.

• • •

Here is a book that foregoes the boxy, awkward, inaccurate, defensive rhetoric of a “strong female MC” and just writes about a person.  She didn’t have to compromise her femininity in favor of masculine traits in order to be taken seriously.  Ginger is a woman who has to do unbelievable things to follow her moral compass and bring justice, but she isn’t held up as the high watermark of female achievement.  The story isn’t bogged down with platitudes of her strength and her being “unlike other girls.”  Emotionally resilient, kind, affectionate, vulnerable, clear-sighted–I loved her.

I very much enjoyed the backdrop of World War I Europe and especially enjoyed the author’s historical note at the end of the book that demonstrated the full depth and breadth of research and the amount of dedication, love, and hard work Kowal put into the story.  (It also didn’t hurt that I’d just seen Wonder Woman, which definitely helped to visualize matters.)  I also enjoyed Kowal’s own addition to the WWI landscape: the world of the Spirit Corps was vivid and detailed and so clever.  I was delighted by the world Kowal created.

I was pleasantly relieved by the romance.  This wasn’t a story of two characters falling in love.  It was about already being in love and about what you’d do for the ones you love.  It’s so refreshing after so many “discovery” romances where so much of the plot caters to the oftentimes melodrama of discovering your “first love.”

Speaking of plot, Ghost Talkers was a fast-paced, exciting story.  Some points were confusing towards the middle, but that’s my own failing, because I don’t keep up very well with clues and mysteries.  In spite of that, I was engrossed in the plot line dealing with finding the traitor.  At times, it was very suspenseful.  Overall, it was something I would love to see as a movie.

In summary, it’s a book I will definitely return to again.  I bought it days after I checked it out from the library because this is a book I need for my shelves.  This is the kind of novel that can be enjoyed over and over.

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Book Info

304 pages • Published August 2016 by Tor Books

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