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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Haunted Books from Simon and Schuster Reviewed by Radio Host

Author: Chris Eboch
Haunted The Ghost on the Stairs
ISBN 978 1-4169-7548-9
Haunted The Riverboat Phantom
ISBN 978 1-4169-7549-6
Kids Simon and Schuster
$5.99 US $7.99 Canada
Available Amazon

Reviewed by Connie Gotsch

Jon’s a typical 13 year-old, annoyed when his mother loves on him, wary of Bruce, his new step father, and not quite enjoying this summer of traveling the country with the ghost-busting TV show that his mother produces.

His sister, Tania is a typical 11 year-old pain, giggly and over dramatic. Actually, she’s a nice pain, and he loves and protects her, patiently explaining the world, a la their scientist father, whom both kids miss a lot.

Then Tania announces she can see ghosts. Jon has no response to that. Is she putting him on? Is her imagination in over drive? Has she gone crazy? Or is she telling the truth?

The fun of Chris Eboch’s Haunted series begins. Tania decides to accept her psychic abilities as a gift. Jon isn’t sure what to think, so he keeps an open mind, especially when rooms turn cold, Tania collapses for no apparent reason, and he feels an unexplainable chill or two himself.

Tania elects to tell no one what she sees. Jon supports her. As she deals with the ghosts that come to her, she and Jon hatch plans to avoid snoopy Mom, curious Bruce, Mean Mick a member of the TV crew who doesn’t like kids, and Madam Natasha, the actress who fakes being a psychic.

The first volume The Ghost on the Stairs, introduces a bride who haunts a hotel looking for the husband who vanished right after the wedding. The second “”The Riverboat Phantom” presents a steamboat pilot who lost his concentration, ran aground and killed several passengers. Now he must haunt the pilot house until he can make amends for his mistake.

Around the ghost stories, Eboch weaves river lore, Mark Twain, tidbits concerning steamboat operation, and morals, manners, and customs of late 19th Century America that could just entice someone to pick up “Tom Sawyer,” or go learn something about mining towns.

Eboch has a nice writing style, and she crafts her stories well, carefully building suspense, showing her action, and setting scene. She discusses various theories of what ghosts might be and ghost hunting, without drawing conclusions as to whether or not they exist.

Each book stands alone. Family dynamics and history come out clearly, though Mean Mick and Madame Natasha are a lot easier to picture in “The Ghost on the Stairs” than in “The Riverboat Phantom.” Ms. Eboch might consider keeping character descriptions as strong as she keeps motivation across the volumes. She might also let her characters grow a bit from book to book. Bruce might move beyond the not-so-hot step father. Madame Natasha just has to go some time. Otherwise the relationships between people might get repetitious.

She plans to send Tania, Jon, and the TV show to New York next, to a museum that might or might not be haunted. If she mixes the history of one of America’s oldest cities with her fantasy, and continues to let her characters develop, she’ll probably have another fun filled story.

----Reviewer Connie Gotsch is author of A Mouth Full of Shelland Snap Me a Future. She is featured in The Complete Writer's Journal from Red Engine Press. Her books are available at She is the host of Write On! radio show in the four corners area.

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