I received this book for free from Advance Reader Copy, NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel
Published by Penguin Random House on September 6, 2022
Source: Advance Reader Copy, NetGalley
The award-winning author of Airborn delivers a roller-coaster ride of a story about the wakeful and wicked dead.
Rebecca Strand was just sixteen when she and her father fell to their deaths from the top of the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse in 1839. Just how they fell--or were they pushed?--remains a mystery. And their ghosts haunt the lighthouse to this day. . . .
Gabe tells this story every day when he gives the ghost tour on Toronto Island. He tries to make it scary enough to satisfy the tourists, but he doesn't actually believe in ghosts--until he finds himself face to face with Rebecca Strand.
The true story of her death is far more terrifying than any ghost tale Gabe has told. Rebecca reveals that her father was a member of the Order, a secret society devoted to protecting the world from "the wakeful and wicked dead"--malevolent spirits like Viker, the ghost responsible for their deaths. But the Order has disappeared, and Viker's ghost is growing ever stronger.
Now Gabe and his friends must find a way to stop Viker before they all become lost souls. . . .
This was a book that my daughter was super excited to read. I will note that this was not an easy book for an 8 year old to read on her own, so we read it together.
Gabe is working a summer job as a tour guide at a “haunted” lighthouse. called the Gibralter Point Lighthouse. The story goes that the lighthouse keeper, Keeper Strand, and his teenage daughter Rebecca, fell off the catwalk around the lightroom one night while tending the light, and died. The myth suggests they were murdered and that the daughter haunts the lighthouse to this day. Gabe hams it up a bit to keep the tourists engaged. By all accounts he does a good job, and the tourists all leave satisfactorily spooked. One day, there’s a girl there who wants to speak with him after the tour. Her name is Callie and she writes about haunted locations. Turns out she wants to see the Gibralter Point Lighthouse specifically, because she’s related to Rebecca Strand. She and Gabe meet up with his best friend Yuri and grab some lunch.
Throughout all of his ghost tours of the Lighthouse, Gabe used Rebecca Strand’s name so often, he woke Rebecca’s ghost. She was able to talk to him about what really happened, and how a ghost named Nicholas Viker is the one who pushed them off the lighthouse. She and her father didn’t fall. They were murdered by a ghost. And about how lighthouse keepers were part of a secret society where the light from the lighthouse kept ghosts away from the cities. Most importantly, some keepers even had a special amber lens called a ghostlight. Like the bright lighthouse beam, it could kill ghosts, even those that had consumed other ghosts to strengthen themselves, but the true power is that the lens frees the ghosts inside. But her father’s ghostlight is missing and Rebecca needs Gabe’s help to find it and to defeat Viker, thus freeing her father whom Viker had eaten.
There is a lot going on in this story and I feel the author vividly and intriguingly described everything so well, that as I read it aloud to my daughter, we were both able to easily visualize everything. Viker is a scary guy, and his form has become warped after centuries of consuming other ghosts for energy. I was worried this would be too scary for my 8 year old but she was super into it! Watching Callie, Yuri, and Gabe form a friendship, and then a team, was great. Rebecca Strand joined their group and fit in easily, creating one very smart ghostlight hunting team. They worked well together, got into scrapes, and pulled off some interesting capers. They had to hunt through the history of the island, of different buildings, old families, and other lighthouse keepers…it was very exciting.
My daughter and I were kept on the edge of our seats constantly, and she never wanted to stop reading.
I hope this is the beginning of a series, because something about that ending has me wanting more…
***ARC courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley