Hey everyone! I’ve moved Middle-Grade Monday over from our TBR and Beyond Facebook Group to the blog! Hopefully I can bring you lots of great reviews, topics and maybe even some author interviews!
I’ve been reading middle-grade for as long as I can remember and I strongly believe it’s not just for children, and I’m always trying to nudge adults into giving it try. Middle-grade has been thriving for years and the stories out there are getting stronger, more diverse and more exciting all the time. Hopefully, my weekly feature will be able to showcase that!
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Published: April 7th 2020
Trigger Warnings: Death of a loved one, abandonment
Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late. With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel. – Synopsis from Goodreads.
When I saw the cover and the synopsis for Ghost Squad last year, I immediately put it on my most anticipated list for 2020. I picked up this treasure of a book recently and it certainly did not disappoint. It was full of everything I love in a middle-grade book. Rich culture, beautiful families, strong female friendships, crazy paranormal adventure and one kooky old lady and her fat cat! What else could anyone possibly ask for?
Ghost Squad follows a Lucey, a 12 year old, Dominican girl who lives with her father after her mother walked out on them. A few more other-worldly guests make up the rest of the household and that is the firefly family, loved ones that have passed on but not gone away. Lucey’s father is in deep financial trouble after something goes wrong with his ghost tour business and they are at risk of losing their home. Lucey and her friend Syd, try and help out and accidentally release evil ghosts all over town – as one does! The girls and a few other fun characters have to figure out how to make it all right again.
This story was so freaking precious! I loved that right away we get immersed into the Dominican culture – we even get some Spanish thrown in and it’s such a lovely addition. No, you do not have to know Spanish – it’s all very accessible and it makes me so happy to imagine how much this must mean to little Latinx girls. We need a lot more of this. Everyone should be able to pick up books and be able to see themselves on covers and in characters and this is a huge step in the right direction for that being possible.
Lucey and Syd are fantastic protagonists. They always have each other’s back, 100% and lift each other up – which is something I think young girls need to see more of. Also, Syd’s sense of humor is wicked, she is such a little character – I just adore her so much. I would’ve wanted her as my friend so badly as a child. Honestly, I still want her as a friend – she’s just so freaking cool!
Ok, I wouldn’t be doing this book justice if I didn’t talk about the Babette for a minute. Babette is Syd’s grandmother and she has some secrets of her own and she is completely wild! I’m going to be honest, sometimes the kooky old lady that can do anything makes me roll my eyes – Babette did not! She was just the coolest character I’ve seen in awhile. She was feisty, hilarious, grumpy as hell, but has so much heart. Also, she owns many cats including a big fat one named Chunk and he’s a character in himself LOL I won’t say much there but I need myself a little Chunk!
I don’t want to say much about the paranormal/spooky stuff in this book, I think you should just go discover the mystery and what is going on in this little town. It does get a little spooky, so it’s probably more for older children, maybe 12 and up. Younger if they don’t scare too easy.
I highly recommend reading this one. It’s has a wonderful adventure, strong characters and an amazing family theme overall. I really fell in love with this author’s writing and I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.