Phantoms by J.A. WhitePhantoms by J.A. White
Series: Shadow School #3
on August 10, 2021
Genres: YA, Middle Grade
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Cordelia’s last year at Shadow School brings readers back for the finale in the spooky middle grade trilogy by J.A. White, the author of the acclaimed Thickety series and Nightbooks. Cordelia must complete her quest to save the world of the living from the ghosts, and dangerous phantoms, who terrorize them.

It’s her final year at Shadow School, and Cordelia Liu isn’t ready to move on. Which is funny, considering helping ghosts “move on” is sort of her thing. But Cordelia can’t bear to give up the rare ability to see and help ghosts.

A field trip brings Cordelia, Benji, and Agnes face-to-face with a dangerous phantom—a ghost capable of reanimating dead animals—and a team of professional ghost hunters that disappear right after they capture the phantom. Cordelia can’t help herself—she needs to know more about the ghost hunters and the phantom.

It’ll mean getting Agnes and Benji to join her and the ghost hunters at a strange village called Shady Rest where ghosts live peacefully in their own homes. But soon, Cordelia, Benji, and Agnes realize that Shady Rest is not quite what it seems. Ghosts are disappearing from their homes. Others start to glow and grow frighteningly long necks and extra teeth. And some of them look strangely familiar. Didn’t they save these ghosts already?

In the creepy conclusion to the Shadow School trilogy, author J. A. White says a final farewell to this unique world of ghosts and phantoms even though some friends—and fiends—never truly leave you.

I realize that I haven’t reviewed book 2 in this series and jumped straight to book 3. That is because my daughter and I read out of order, and we are in the middle of the second book. The bossiest 8 year old ever has told me I’m not allowed to read ahead LOL. Sorry they’re out of order, guys.

This is the third book in the Shadow School series, and it can be read as a stand-alone.

Cordelia, Benji, and Agnes are friends who are in eighth grade at a very interesting school. Their school is an old Victorian mansion turned into a school. Oh and it’s haunted. In the first book, they learned how to send ghosts on to their respective “Brights.” In the second book, Agnes built a “dehaunter.” This sends the ghosts on to their Brights without the need of the kids doing it.

In this third book, we see that Cordelia is sad that she’s leaving shadow school for high school, and also sad that she doesn’t get to help the ghosts anymore. She misses the moment she helped a ghost find its Bright. But when a field trip gone awry introduces her to a woman who helps capture ghosts and release them into a small house on private property to haunt for the rest of their afterlives, Cordelia is excited to help. She can work with the ghosts again!

She and Benji can see the ghosts outside of Shadow School, but while Benji can see them anywhere, Cordelia needs a bit of magical help. The spectrecles. Glasses to help her see the ghosts. They don’t work for everyone, for example, Agnes could see with the Spectercles in Shadow School, but that is one special place. They don’t work for her outside of the school. Cordelia however, can use them.

The woman they met on the field trip is named Laurel, and she has taken over her grandfather’s business of capturing ghosts, and giving them somewhere safe to haunt. So if a building is being torn down, she can transport the spirit to Shady Rest, a “ghost town” so to speak. It’s like a neighborhood for ghosts. They stay in their new homes, and they are free to haunt as they please. Agnes, Benji, and Cordelia work as the people who can see and help capture the ghosts. Until the ghosts become phantoms. That’s when they’re dangerous. And for some reason, their weekend job of checking on the neighborhood ghosts in Shady Rest becomes a lot more exciting.

Helping to capture and release the ghosts to their new homes was really fun for the trio, until things don’t add up. They notice one of the ghosts they’d captured is also a phantom they are sent in to capture. That spirit should be happily haunting his new home, and yet he’s somehow in a hotel throwing furniture. The mystery of what is actually happening at Shady Rest is a good one, and I definitely didn’t figure it out until towards the end. This series has really hooked my daughter and me, and we are really hopeful there will be more books.

The blurb calls this the final installment in the Shadow School series, however it doesn’t feel like a final book. It has no finality and no closure. I really hope the author revisits this world later on. We really liked it!