Monday, October 31, 2016

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

As WWI rages on, the Allied Powers have enlisted help of an unusual kind as a secret weapon against their foes. Mediums, like Ginger Stuyvestant, have been recruited to form the Spirit Corps, a group capable of getting key information and final messages from recently deceased soldiers. But when Germany catches wind of the operation, Ginger and the Corps become important targets. And as their enemies attempt to learn the secrets behind the mediums' strategy - in particular their location and the "conditioning" that allows the soldiers to connect to them - Ginger discovers there may be a traitor in their midst. 

Apparently, the idea for this latest from Mary Robinette Kowal, was inspired by a dream - which led to a short story and then a novel. It's a fun outing, one that explores the possibility of mediums and ghosts as military spies of a sort.

Ginger, an American engaged to a British soldier, is at the forefront of the tale. A medium whose Aunt is technically the head of the Spirit Corps, Ginger basically runs the London Branch - the Spirit Corps post and nexus in Le Havre.

But she doesn't run it alone. Helen, who we know very little about in actuality, is Caribbean and unfortunately the color of her skin makes it impossible for her to officially lead the operation. But it's she who created the "conditioning" that allows the whole thing to work. This "conditioning" is something only a few very key personnel are privy to and it's the very information the Germans are desperate to discover. It's what draws the dead soldiers to London Branch's very specific location, allowing them to make their final reports to Ginger, Helen, and the other awaiting mediums. Without it, the operation basically wouldn't exist. And without it, the Germans can't waylay the Allied dead or even form their own Spirit Corps.

As I said above, Ghost Talkers is a fun tale. A paranormal mystery set at the heart of WWI and a stand alone, at the moment. I adore the premise and the setting and quite enjoyed the tale in general, but I think in the end I really wanted more out of the story. More Helen, specifically, more depth even to characters like Ginger and Ben, and more information about the Corps and the other mediums as well.

That said, I understand there's the possibility of expanding this one into a series and I do very much hope that's the case. It would be wonderful to spend more time in this world and have the opportunity to get to know these characters more deeply.

Rating: 3.5/5

No comments: