Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Ghosts of Nameless Island by Carly Anne West

One of the enjoyable activities during summer is camping in the great outdoors...and that needs to include s'mores and ghost stories. This read might not really work around a campfire, but it should hold tons of ghosts and spooky moments. I'm grabbing a flashlight but not a blanket (too hot!) and seeing how creepy this one is.

by Carly Anne West
Illustrated by Theo Skaffa
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Middle Grade Paranormal Mystery
304 pages
ages 8 to 12

JULY 23rd!!!

Twelve-year-old Gus Greenburg can see ghosts; in fact, he uses this paranormal superpower to help them "go on." But when Gus and his mom move into an old mansion on the mysterious and remote Nameless Island, he meets a ghost that's set out to hurt him . Bestselling author Carly Anne West weaves a spooky and thrilling series opener in this spine-tingling tale about mystery, family, and all things paranormal.

After his dad goes missing and his mom is hired to restore an old building called the Rotham Manor, twelve-year-old Gus Greenburg and his mom move to a quaint, secluded island called Nameless. Gus was hoping for a new start on the island (despite throwing up on the boat ride there . . .  twice),  but a mysterious ghost has another idea. Throw in a mean kid who hides rats in the manor, two new friends, an eclectic island chef who's competing to be on a reality TV show, and Gus's power to talk to the dead . . . well, that's a lot of chaos for one kid! 

Gus needs to find out the identity of the mysterious ghost – and fast – or else he might be doomed to the same lethal fate.

That is, if the island’s signature "Heavenly Hash" dish doesn't get to him first.

The Ghosts of Nameless Island is the first book in a new trilogy from bestselling author Carly Anne West. It's infused with Carly Anne West's signature wit and humor, and spooky enough for fans of Claribel Ortega's Ghost Squad,  Scott Cawthon's Five Night's at Freddy's, and Carly's own Hello Neighbor  series. This book also features black-and-white spot illustrations throughout. 


Chills are guaranteed as eerie moments whisper secrets while meeting small island atmosphere with three adventurous friends.

Gus is feeling a bit burdened by life. He’s seen ghosts as long as he can remember, which hits extra hard thanks to his parents’ business of renovating old houses. His father was the only one who believed him and tried to help, but he suddenly disappeared and took all of Gus’ collected protection trinkets with him. To Gus’ dismay, his mother takes a renovation job on an island, hoping to distract herself from the problems. Not only is the island called Nameless Island (ominous) but her job concerns a very old house with tons of secrets and built literally on the edge of a even older graveyard. Disaster is guaranteed, but it comes worse than he ever could have expected.

Nameless Island, an abandoned manor, historical secrets, and the mysterious disappearance of a father—the stage set for a good, ghostly tale, but not only does this book deliver scary moments, it brings adventure and fun, too. Gus is introduced with the weight of the world on his shoulders, while riding a strange boat to the island with his mother stressing out and him hugging a bucket close to his chest due to sea sickness. He’s somewhat awkward in his own skin but has touching empathy for his mom’s situation. It makes him easy to like and sympathize with…and this holds the entire way through, especially since he does have just a touch of sarcastic/clever humor. It’s hard not to feel for him as the author lays out the odd island and its quirky inhabitants, and especially the manor (which is so perfectly done!).

It's a lovely mix of gruesome, chilling spooks and spine-tingling moments with a touch of silly adventure reminding a little bit of The Goonies. From questionable ghost hunting tech to scented soap sales and food battle competitions, there are many twists and turns to clash against the paranormal tension and darker moments. The friendships are golden, the secrets are thick, there’s family goodness, and plenty of sneaking around. There’s a very diverse cast, and plenty of hints of more secrets to uncover. So, boredom doesn’t have a chance.

The horror moments do edge toward tense, which might bother some sensitive readers but it’s nothing which goes past a middle grade level. The relationship between Gus and his mother is oddly balanced and bothered a little, but this might have something to do with the mystery behind his father, which isn’t touched upon much during this first book. There are more than a few sub-plots weaving everywhere, each with secrets and hidden agendas, and almost none are tied up by the last page. The cliffhanger ending promises a lot more to come, which also means readers will have to wait to continue the adventure until the next book appears.

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