Author: Cornelia Funke
Translator: Helena Ragg-Kirkby
Ghosthunters, vol. 2
My rating: 4 of 5
World-renowned ghosthunter Hetty Hyssop and her assistants Tom (a boy) and Hugo (an Averagely Spooky Ghost, or ASG) are called out to a hotel on the beach to handle a small fire ghost, nothing major. So they pack up the basic supplies–cake icing, kitchen basters, heat-resistant foil, and the like–and head out to wrap the problem up before it becomes a major issue for the hotel. But when they arrive, the Hyssop team find they haven’t been given the whole story at all. Everything, from the extent of the damage to whole floors of guests disappearing, seems to indicate a much more dangerous ghost is at work than they were led to believe. And of course, they didn’t bring the right equipment . . . not that they have much chance against a Gruesome Invincible Lightning Ghost even fully equipped!
I tend to grab up any books I can find with Cornelia Funke’s name on them. I’m glad I did this one, although Ghosthunters and the Gruesome Invincible Lightning Ghost! is noticeably different from what I usually expect of her books (Inkheart, The Thief Lord, and Reckless, for instance). Ghosthunters is lighter, an easier read–really more what you would expect from middle-grade serial novels. But for that genre, it’s a high quality example with an interesting plot, good characters, and quality writing. I do admit that I miss Anthea Bell’s translation on this volume; I associate her tone with Cornelia Funke’s almost as strongly as I do the original author’s. But the translation by Ragg-Kirkby here is clean, natural, and full of character–quite acceptable. I think Ghosthunters and the Gruesome Invincible Lightning Ghost! would be a fun read for most upper-elementary and middle-grade children (particularly boys who like slightly silly and gross stuff); it might even make an enjoyable read-aloud story for the classroom.