Published October 7, 2022
Twelve-year-old Luke Smith-Sharma shovels coal under a half-bombed, blackened power station. With his best friend Ravi he keeps his head down, hoping to one day earn his freedom and return to his family, while avoiding the wrath of the evil Tabatha Margate. When he tries to help new girl Jess, Luke is punished and sent to clean the sewers of the haunted East Wing, a place from which few return.
Whilst serving his punishment, Luke realises he can see things others can’t in the power station: ghostly things. He befriends a ghost-girl called Alma, who can ride clouds through the night sky and bend their shape to her will.
But when Luke discovers the terrible truth of why Tabatha Margate is kidnapping children and forcing them to work in the power station, Alma agrees to help him and his friends escape. Will Alma convince the ghost council to help their cause? And can Luke find his voice, while trying to find a way home?
I liked the story world a lot. GHOSTCLOUD is set in London, but an alternative London, one ravaged by war and pollution. One in which children disappear. I liked Luke right away. He’s the guy who knows he should keep his head down so he can win a ticket home to his family. Instead, he risks everything to help a girl who clearly has no idea what she’s doing.
So much happens in this book. Adventures in the air with ghosts. Adventures exploring ventilation systems with Jess and a precocious cat they call Stealth. Luke is determined to win not only his own freedom, but to help Jess and Ravi and the others, too. He can’t help but care about everyone he meets, and I love that about him.
Something about the writing and the mysterious/magical story world reminded me of THE SONG FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE by A. F. Harrold. Both stories have that fantastical feel to them and kids with big hearts at their centers. I think readers who love magical realism or are looking for a story about courage will find a lot to love in GHOSTCLOUD.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Luke is half white and half Indian.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
A girl kisses Luke on the cheek.
Luke meets a ghost named Alma who introduces him to other ghosts. Because he was dead for a moment at birth, he can see and interact with ghosts himself. Alma tells him this makes him “half-ghost”.
Luke and other children are forced to labor in a factory for a woman named Tabatha and her guards. She punishes them severely if they make mistakes or do something she doesn’t like. Brief references to torture and abuse.
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