Rhiannon Lassiter's Ghost of a Chance is aimed squarely at YA readers. Or others, of more mature years (that's me), who think the young shouldn't have all the fun where reading is concerned. It follows the attempts of lost spirit Evangeline Chase, haunting her crumbling stately home as she attempts to discover who killed her before the killer bumps off the rest of her family. Eva is an excellent character. All the best scenes belong to Eva. Her character works on many levels and holds the sympathy of the reader throughout. All the ghostly characters are fine, from the sad young ghost Sinje to the vengeful and lethal Witch and Stalker. The living characters are where the book fails though. They are for the most part half written and dull. Kyle is ok but his twin Kyra just doesn't work at all. There's a sort of half hearted anti-bullying theme which misfires completely, mostly due to the contradictory and unrealistic description and realisation of the girls character.
Despite all this I was quite enjoying this book until about three quarters through. Unfortunately, things start to flag at the end of the long and eventful ghost walk, which takes up most of the middle section of the story. The book loses its focus at this stage and starts to tread water. The narrative is further undermined by a sudden onset of random head jumping among the minor supporting characters.
The murder mystery won't baffle many readers and I expect even the most inept detectives among them will have had the killer tagged with a good proportion of the book still ahead. The shock ending is also not in the least unexpected, even if most of the telegraphing were removed it's unlikely anyone will reach the end without twigging well in advance.
It's a shame the atmospheric and well paced opening half of the book wasn't better served by its conclusion.
One other minor external quibble is the choice of title. A quick search on Goodreads reveals there are well over 60 books already called Ghost of a Chance and I dread to think how many are about ghosts who are called Chance. I'm all for a cheesy chapter title or two for a bit of fun but the book title drives the book's shelf identity and I would think something less well worn would serve it better.
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