Author // Michael Pryor
Publication Date // August, 2017
Publisher // Allen & Unwin
Genre // #LoveOzYA, Fantasy
Rating // ✭✭✭✭⭐︎
Let’s get this straight – ghosts are everywhere. I can see them. You can’t. And, see them or not, they’re dangerous. This is why my family has hunted ghosts for hundreds of years to protect people like you.
The Marin family are outcasts of the ghost hunting world. They run a two-man operation in inner city Melbourne. Anton has the Ghost-sight, but his father does not.
Rani Cross is supremely skilled in hand-to-hand combat, with enhanced speed and strength thanks to her magical initiation into the Company of the Righteous.
When it comes to ghost-hunting methodology, Anton and Rani don’t see eye to eye – Anton likes to ‘ease their passage’ to the next world, while Rani’s all about the slashing.
But Melbourne is under threat; with a massive spike in violent ghost manifestations, Anton and Rani must find a way to work together to keep supernatural forces at bay.
And what with all the blindingly terrifying brushes with death, Anton must decide if he really wants in on the whole ghost hunting biz anyway.
Gap Year in Ghost Town was the YA Room’s August Book Club pick, and boy, it did not disappoint.
Set in present day Melbourne, Anton Marin is takes a gap year after high school to figure out what he wants to do with his life and (possible) university career. His father talks him into going into the hereditary-family business of ghost hunting to make up his mind whether or not it’s the career path for him. The Marin family traditionally believe in assisting ghosts to ease their pain and allow them to pass on, a belief that put them odds with the majority of the ghost hunting community years ago and there’s minimal communication between the two groups.
All goes well until Anton runs into Rani Cross, a member of The Company of the Righteous in England. The two clash over the best technique for hunting ghosts, but must ultimately work together when there are unheard of numbers of dangerous ghosts rising in Melbourne.
This book was just plain fun. It was hilarious – Michael Pryor has included some fantastic pop culture and Melbourne references that were just a delight to read, and his one liners were top notch. Melbourne is depicted perfectly and I was nodding along to many of the tidbits of information (if I was laughing out loud at just how accurate it was).
The characters are absolutely delightful. Anton is very much the undecided teen at the beginning of the book, caught between making a break from his family or going into the family business, but he has a heart of gold and he honestly tries to the right thing all the time. Rani was a great foil to that; she’s lived her life in the pursuit of rising the ranks of The Company of the Righteous only to find her beliefs challenged. Anton’s best friend, Bec, is the hilarious, non-nonsense organisationally-obsessed glue in Anton’s life. She also has a prosthetic eye and puts it to good use.
Oh, and there’s no romance. Just lots of great friendships between boys and girls… and a bit of cosplay, if you’re into that!
Gap Year in Ghost Town is an easy 4.5 out of 5 star read for me.