Ghostly Echoes: A Jackaby Novel, Book 3

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Ghostly Echoes:  A Jackaby Novel, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Thrills, chills, ghosts, and a vampire in haunting mystery.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Main characters model problem-solving, critical thinking, and learning new skills. The context is most often fantasy, but the methods and benefits apply to real life.

Positive Messages

It's brave to be yourself and not who or what others say you should be. Kindness is an act of bravery; hatred is an act of fear. Monsters (things you're afraid of) can never kill your spirit and so don't have any power over you. You can't always know what the right thing to do is, but you can always keep trying.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jackaby and Abigail are brave, loyal, and resourceful problem-solvers. They put themselves in danger to help others. Jackaby models taking the time to observe the world around you up close, not just as you're passing by. Abigail doesn't need to understand people, or why they are what they are, to respect them. Jackaby and Abigail model treating a transgender woman with dignity and respect after rescuing her from violent bullies.

Violence

Talk about murder victims mentions blood and causes of death. Blood mentioned a few times but not described. A sword is wielded and used to cut someone in the face; the victim fully recovers. Fantasy violence from supernatural or magical attacks results in injuries that aren't described; pain is mentioned but not described in detail. Suspenseful fantasy action with heroes in peril. Spooky, eerie atmosphere, especially in the underworld. One villain is a vampire who threatens and mentions killing. Brief mention of a transgender woman being beaten.

Sex

A romantic embrace and brief kiss. Another kiss on the cheek.

Language

"Hell," "damn," and "bastard." Bullies refer to a transgender woman as "freak" and "sicko."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of spilled wine in the past. Cigar smoking mentioned once.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ghostly Echoes is the third installment in the Jackaby series, set in 1890s New England. Reading the first two books isn't strictly necessary, but it would give a deeper, more vivid appreciation of the two main characters, as well as of the central mystery. Murder and causes of death are mentioned, and blood's mentioned but not described a number of times. The overall atmosphere is eerie, with a vampire villain and a visit to the underworld. A transgender woman is beaten and referred to as "freak" and "sicko." The only strong language is rare use of "hell," "damn," and "bastard." Other content is very mild.

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What's the story?

In GHOSTLY ECHOES, eccentric 1890s detective Jackaby and his teen assistant Abigail are finally able to turn their investigating attention to Jenny, the ghost who lives in Jackaby's house and who's become good friends with Abigail. Jenny was murdered 10 years ago, but the detecting duo are up to the task of picking up the cold trail. And as soon as they do, a new murder victim turns up, in circumstances eerily similar to what happened a decade ago. Finding the truth about Jenny's past will lead Jackaby and Abigail down some the most twisted and haunted paths yet.

Is it any good?

Author William Ritter's third installment in the Jackaby series brings the spine-tingling chills back to the forefront. There's still plenty of magic and fantasy in GHOSTLY ECHOES, but ghosts, vampires, and a visit to the underworld put the supernatural back at the forefront. Tweens and teens who enjoyed the first two volumes will be satisfied with the storylines that come full circle. They, and even new readers, will also be pleased that what's not fully resolved keeps the door wide open for more. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about supernatural stories such as Ghostly Echoes. Why do we love them so much?

  • Have you read the other Jackaby books? Which one do you like best? If not, what ghostly books are your favorites?

  • Do you believe in ghosts? Why, or why not?

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