________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 14. . . .December 4, 2015


Ghost Most Foul.

Patti Grayson.
Regina, SK.: Couteau Books, 2015.
186 pp., trade pbk., pdf, epub & mobi, $10.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-55050-614-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55050-615-0 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-55050-821-5 (epub), ISBN 978-1-55050-833-2 (mobi).

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Lacey Hall.

** /4


I groped my way toward what I thought was the top of the staircase, hoping that I wouldn’t miss the staircase and go crashing down. The screaming continued behind me, but I was distracted by a strange aroma wafting over me. Had the candles been coconut-scented? I reached the edge of the first step and felt a bone-chilling draught. I inched my foot forward, but it slipped over the edge of the top stair and I felt myself teetering. Suspended in air, my arms flailing for a hand-hold – I saw something! At the bottom of the staircase, amid our bags and coats – a filmy, vaporous figure hovered there. As it raised its head, I unexpectedly regained my balance. The face that I hadn’t been able to conjure a few moments earlier was staring up at me. Coach Nola. In a flicker, she was gone.


Shortly after 14-year-old Summer Widden is named captain of her basketball team, Nola Blythe, the team’s coach, is in a terrible accident that results in her death. After holding a séance with her team, Summer begins seeing Nola’s ghost everywhere and wonders if she is hallucinating or if Coach Blythe is trying to communicate with her. While dealing with this, Summer faces other typical high school issues – bullying and peer pressure as well as a worried and overprotective mother.

     The dialogue used between characters in this novel reads awkwardly and slightly stiff. Many characters use unnecessary formal language when speaking to each other, and this made portions of the story lack emotion as well as made me question whether 14-year-old high school students would truly speak in this manner.

     The motif that carried much credibility, though, is that of bullying and peer pressure. Summer, being a quiet girl on her team, has to deal with Kamryn and Roxx, two girls who make fun of the less skilled players on the team and goad others into participating in this form of bullying. Summer, having been named captain of the team by Coach Blythe, doesn’t stick up for herself in the face of having a new coach who happens to be Kamryn’s stepdad. And, she feels she has to stay away from Dodie, the least coordinated girl on the team, just to prove she is nothing like her. These behaviours all stem from the pressure everyone feels in high school to fit in and to feel accepted. Grayson portrays this nicely throughout the course of the novel.

     One thing to note is the novel does run long, without many plot points. Readers will find basketball a reoccurring theme that is used with the incident of the coach’s ghost appearing to drive much of the story forward.


Lacey Hall works at Kwantlen Polytechnic University as the Dean of Arts’ assistant. She will begin her Masters of Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia in September.

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

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