By: Marley Gibson
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Publication Date: May 2011
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: March 28, 2011
Long before Telly Savalas waged battle with “Talky Tina” the doll in a 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone, possessed dolls have held a strong "creep factor" to the fans of the horror genre. With the publication of Ghost Huntress Book 5: The Discovery, author Marley Gibson introduces the evil doll concept to a brand new generation of fans.
In this story, Kendall Moorehead has recently returned from her "Enlightened Youth Retreat" with a refreshed outlook and a new (and very cute) boyfriend, Patrick. Kendall is a ghost hunter and posses extraordinary psychic powers. Patrick is also a psychic and the two can actually communicate with each other via thoughts. This ability will prove vital later in the story.
Back at school, Kendall and her friends are in search of the next ghost hunting experience and it doesn't take long to find. When a teacher assigns a Civil War project and suggests the students visit the town Civil War display at the local fairgrounds, the gang heads to the fair and soon finds "Xander the Doll." Both Kendall and Patrick immediately sense "something sinister" about the doll. Oblivious to the bad vibes the doll is projecting, Kendall's friend Farah wants to take pictures of the doll for her history project. The caretaker of the exhibit warns her not to take any pictures because bad things happen to people who snap Xander's picture. Farah laughs off the warning and she and three other friends have their pictures taken with Xander.
It isn't long before really bad things start to happen to Kendall's friends. Angered by the doll's apparent ability to hurt others, Kendall swears to solve the mystery and stop whatever, or whoever, has possessed the doll.
It only took a few pages to get into Ghost Huntress, and while I hadn't read any of the other books in the series, I had no trouble following the plot. However, not knowing the various minor characters and their histories, I'd suggest starting with earlier books. The writing is very "teenage friendly" and moves the story along quickly. The story gets intense as Kendall talks with ghosts, crawls around dark, dank tunnels, and must deal with the death of those around her that appear to be caused by Xander (or whatever/whoever has possessed it). There is a sub plot with Kendall searching out her aunt (Kendall is adopted and knows very little about her parents) that I suspect may lead to another book.
Quill says: A fun continuation of a popular series, with enough of a "creep factor" to keep fans reading and eager for the next book.