The Ghosts of Ashbury High

by Jaclyn Moriarty

This ambitious novel returns to the same school that was the setting for Jacqueline... read more

This ambitious novel returns to the same school that was the setting for Jacqueline Moriarity’s The Year of Secret Assignments (U.S. edition: 2004) and The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie (U.S. edition: 2006), both published by Scholastic. At first only Em is intrigued by Riley and Amelia, two new scholarship students who arrive her senior year, but soon everyone wants to be around the multitalented, mysterious pair. It turns out there is more to their backgrounds than anyone—including the scholarship committee—knows. Events of the school year unfold through multiple voices and formats—from essays for a gothic fiction exam (with students writing in the gothic style), to blog entries for English, to minutes of the faculty scholarship committee meetings—in narratives that ranges from hilarious (Em shows uwitting mastery of malapropisms and unbridled enthusiasm for exclamation points) to spare and haunting (Amelia’s “Shadowgirl” blog). Moriarty does an excellent job of giving each of the many characters strong and distinctive voices. She also deftly blends humor with serious revelations about the lives of teens teetering on the brink of adulthood. All of the characters have so much more beneath the surface than is apparent at first, and these discoveries are not only a pleasure, but much of the point in this riff on Gothic fiction that isn’t afraid to be playful while still holding fast to deep emotional core. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

show less