________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 19 . . . . January 23, 2015


Spirited: 13 Haunting Tales.

Kat O’Shea, ed.
Powell, WY: Leap Books (www.leapbooks.com), 2012.
317 pp., trade pbk., $19.99.
ISBN 978-1-61603-020-9.

Subject Headings:
Science fiction.

Grades 6 and up / Ages 11 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

***½ /4


I gathered my skirts and swept to my feet.

“Jefferson Rumsay,” I roared, “play that infernal gramophone disk once more, and I’ll flay the flesh from your bones. I won’t stop there, no sir. I’ll stretch your skin over the disk and see what pretty songs your rotting hide sings beneath the needle.”

From below, a flash of dark hair, spindly limbs trapped in a day suit, and then Nora’s younger brother appeared, saying, “Someone’s testy.”

“You don’t think I have cause? Of course not, because you don’t think. Ever. I almost had your sister feeling quite confident at the prospect of descending twenty-seven stairs while in full debut ball finery. Almost had her able to hold her chin high and face the scrutiny of the lowest echelon of New York society known as the upper class.” I gestured to Nora. “Now look at her.”

“Oh that didn’t sound flattering, now did it?” Nora said as she struggled to her feet against yards of petticoat. (
From “Strangeways vs. the Wraith”.)



Spirited is a collection of 13 ghostly tales that, while aimed primarily at the teen to young adult reader, can be enjoyed just as well by adults. They are broken into three groups, Past, Present, and Future.

     “The Past” begins with “Strangeways vs. the Wraith” and tells of a young ghost hunter faced with the problem of keeping her friend safe at The Specter’s Ball. The next story, “The Senet Box”, leads the reader into the island of Cyprus in the year 1283 AD where a young man is struggling with his prize, a mysterious girl, and her connection to a box from the land of Egypt. This is followed by “Stained”, the story of a young witch hunter who discovers that things are not always what they might first appear to be. With a touch of gothic romance, “Thread of the Past” tells of a senior dance being held at a one of the most haunted houses in the country.

     The collection’s middle section, “The Present”, starts with “The Cold One” which takes readers to Finland where the ghost of a Viking is having difficulty communicating with a young lady. The next in line, “Death Becomes Her”, tells a version of a Cinderella tale and a difficulty with dresses. In “The Oast House”, a lonely youth finds a strange young girl in nearby ruins and tries to persuade her to leave. “The New Girl” is a story about a high school student who has a problem: her family keeps moving every few weeks, and, because of this, she is always an outsider.

     The next tale, “Aftermath”, follows the story of a young woman who is ready to head off to college for the first time, but she’s troubled by dreams with strong images from the past. In “Phantom of the Prom”, readers are taken to a dance held at a castle where boyfriend problems and an angry ghost are ready to upset the life of a young lady who can see things.

     Finally, “The Future”, via “Night Queen”, takes the reader into the far reaches of deep space, and the adventures of a young man on his first, and very difficult, salvage job. The penultimate tale, “To Hel and Back”, tells a futuristic story of the haves, and have-nots, and what happens when a youth on a summer job has feelings for one of the “nots”. The final selection in the collection, “The Story of Late”, begins in the land of the unclaimed Dead and looks at what might happen if you leave that strange place and fall in love.

     At 317 pages, plus six pages of author biographies, two pages of acknowledgements, and four pages of promotions for other books by the same publisher, the collection provides a substantial volume for the reader. It opens with a two page introduction plus two pages of related material that might appeal to young people. The anthology is well decorated with black abstract scrolled artwork that divides the sections and introduces each story with a brief précis of the tale and a blurb about the author. There is one internal illustration, a B&W poster for the ball in the opening “Strangeways vs. the Wraith”.

     Spirited should appeal to young readers who enjoy tales of paranormal complete with witch-hunters, ghost seekers and lost souls. Their parents shouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen perusing the pages either.

Highly Recommended.

Ronald Hore, involved with writers groups for several years, dabbles in writing fantasy and science fiction in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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