NO GHOULS ALLOWED
By Victoria Laurie
Victoria Laurie has developed a series that revolves around a team of ghost busters. Recently she asked me to read an advance proof of NO GHOULS ALLOWED, the 9th in the series in exchange for an honest review. I would be delighted, I told her, knowing that her series was terrific, the perfect blend of fright, humor, friendship, and family. I would like to make a point by looking back to the beginning for a moment. In the first book, WHAT’S A GHOUL TO DO? I found a fun story with a doctor who lived in Boston, where MJ Holliday and Gilley Gillespie had their offices for Ghoul Getters. The doctor was handsome and mangled the English language by garbling colloquiums. MJ and Gilley helped the doctor determine if his father had jumped from the roof of his hunting lodge or if he had been pushed.
DEMONS ARE A GHOULS BEST FRIEND, the second in this series, involves a boarding school near Lake Placid with one bad-tempered ghost who needed to move on now that the school was renovating and going to use the areas he frequented most as dorm rooms. Hatchet Jack had to go, and MJ and Gilley made it happen in a much more intense story. An investment from the doctor in Boston helped a long way.
GHOULS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN could have been the title for the TV show about possessed items. The TV station gathered several people said to be excellent mediums to compete against each other to answer the question of whether objects could be possessed. Throughout the shooting, they kept losing mediums until MJ and an American Indian named Heath Whitefeather were left. This book was just as scary as the previous books, and it introduced humor along with new team member Heath.
I’ve given the barest description of the first three books to show you how each book relies on the one before and adds an element or two. Each book in the series is a bit scarier or introduces a character or explains one of the ghostbusters personalities. Was it necessary to read all 8 books before NO GHOUL ALLOWED, no. Victoria Laurie is a fine author who gives enough back story so you know what is going on without giving so much that previous readers roll their eyes at too much repetition. That balance is tricky, and I would say Ms. Laurie has it down pat. Would it be helpful to read the previous eight books in the series to enjoy NO GHOULS ALLOWED? Yes! But is it necessary, no.
It is time for MJ, or Mary Jane, to return home to Valdosta, Georgia where she and Gilley grew up and became BFFs. MJ’s mother died from cancer when MJ was 11 or 12, and a darkness surrounded her, her father, and their home until recently. Now MJ has found love with Heath, and her dad is to marry a kind and lovely woman named Christine. MJ’s dad and Christine invite MJ and her friends to their own small wedding. MJ expects the same stiff, unfeeling, angry man that her dad had become the day her mom died.
MJ is shocked when she finds first a warm and welcoming home, the same one she grew up in but yet brought back to life; Christine, a beautiful bride-to-be, full of life; and a warm, welcoming father, to whom she almost doesn’t know how to respond. As she visits with them, she learns that Christine is trying to renovate the old Porter Mansion, the biggest home in town, but construction crews keep walking off the job after incidents or accidents. When the Ghoul Getters go to Porter Mansion, they manage to escape slamming doors and flying objects and locked windows that are just a peek at the consequences of a decades-long, very intricate set of relationships between spooks and humans.
This investigation combines finding and eliminating the bad spooks as well as discovering things in our own live, human nature. The spooks are VERY spooky. The inquiry is aided by the fact that MJ and Heath are deputized by the sheriff after he is stabbed, while Gil does his part researching certain things they question. If you fear Ouija boards or find them alluring, this book is for you. After figuring out this mystery using loads of good detecting work and a fancy bit of spook catching, the world in Valdosta changes. I can’t tell you how or I’d have to call those demons back.
MJ has learned many valuable lessons by book’s end through contact with her late mother and many, many scary times, past and present; times that scared me as the reader as well. Rest assured that my electric bill will be higher this month from all the lights I had on while reading, day or night! I’m sure there are words of wisdom I will take with me, once I’m no longer too frightened to think of them, that is. I’ve read many a scary book, but this one, NO GHOULS ALLOWED, frightened my socks off. Maybe Gil will share some chocolate, now that I’m finished.
Victoria Laurie's website is www.victorialaurie.com