Spirits of Ash and Foam by Greg Weisman
- Series: Rain of the Ghosts (Book 2)
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (July 8, 2014)
The Spirit of Ash and Foam is a wonderful new installment in a quest series based in the Caribbean using native mythology as its basis and a couple of entertaining characters. Rain is a normal girl who has just learned the gold armbands her grandfather left her are Zemis , powerful talismans created by the island’s native Arawak Taino Indians. And these Zemis let Rain see ghosts. Including her Grandfather’s. Interested? I was. So I requested this book from Netgalley and a few day s later I get a copy.
First the good. I loved the tropical environment, a normal school filled with normal kids, and the Bed and Breakfast run by Rain’s parents with the quirky tourists. I can see why a publisher took a chance since it is a great mystery novel involving just enough supernatural elements to keep things interesting, but not so powerful that magic solves everything. Once the perspective stopped ping-ponging between characters every other paragraph it got easier to read and the story was able to shine. And what a story. Manatee like mermaid, ancient origin story for vampires (as bad guys for once), a search and rescue for lost kids, even a very teenage decision to earn more money to buy a replacement for a lost camera. All neatly intertwined in a fresh new YA novel.
Now the bad. I was so lost for the first third of the book I almost put it down. Characters swapped perspectives faster than I could keep up. And though this was book two, I needed more to identify who was talking than a belated “I’m a dog get over it”. It smoothed out at the end, but the beginning was torture. The “talking” omniscient dog bothered me. Even at the end of the book I had no idea why the dog was narrating.
Other than the dog, the one character the book could do without is Renee, the ultimate bad girl who is “taking the long” view on revenge. I thought she was a distraction, especially since there is this large buildup of “What is she going to do to get back” and then nothing. Oh, and spiking food with a substance that makes someone ill is food tampering and jail worthy. So I wanted to see Renee get sentenced to jail, not smirk and get away with a criminal act. I also don’t like it that the main characters let the boy eat the food knowing something is wrong with it. Heck everyone is terrified of Renee and not a single adult or person stands up to this bully. I thought this was a very bad way to end the novel.
Parents note there is bullying, and like I mentioned above a character who engages in criminal acts and no one bats an eye. However, there is not much else that is a problem. If your child is looking for a new take on the magical creatures in modern day this might be a good book for them. It has adventure and quirky fun characters set in a non urban, non dystopian land. Refreshing. This is book two, so you need to read book one first, but I liked this story.