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No Such Thing as Ghosts by Ursula Vernon
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No Such Thing as Ghosts: 01/22/20

No Such Thing as Ghosts

No Such Thing as Ghosts by Ursula Vernon is the fifth of the Dragonbreath series. It's set during Halloween, meaning the bus that can take Danny and Wendell doesn't feature. Instead, it's a night of trick-or-treating with a diehard skeptic, invited by Danny's father.

The Halloween routine involves a brief trick-or-treat run along Danny's street and then a drive to a wealthier area for the full sized candy bars. Driving to other neighborhoods wasn't something I did as a kid, our suburb being too far removed from anywhere else. But it is something my kids have experienced when trick-or-treating with their friends.

The set up, though, is Danny, Wendell, and Christiana are tricked into investigating an abandoned house by a group of bullies. When they're trapped in there, they have to face the fact that the house might actually be haunted.

The house itself reminds me of a few haunted houses in kid's fiction:

  • Monster House (2006)
  • The lodge in Dead Voices by Katherine Arden (2019)
  • The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane by Carolyn Keene (2018)

The ghost, and yes, there is one, though, is more frustrated than grudge. She is one of many child ghosts I've read recently. As I get older, more and more of these child ghosts would have died during my childhood, making them contemporaries. Looking forward, though, to post COVID-19 times, I wonder how many future child ghosts will be contemporaries of my youngest.

Like the house, the ghost reminds me of others in children's fiction:

  • The boy in Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie (2020)
  • The girl in [LINK]Séance Tea Party[/LINK] by Reimena Yee (2020)
  • The various ghosts in the Shadow School series by J.A. White
  • The ghosts in "The Trickening!" (Ducktales (2017), season 3, episode 10)

Chart showing the progress of the Dragonbreath books on the road narrative spectrum.

No Such Thing as Ghosts like the previous books in the Dragonbreath series, sits on the road narrative spectrum. As with volumes one through four, the travelers are marginalized (66) (as they are children). This time the destination is home (66) in two senses. The first is Danny and friends' desire to get home. The second is the haunted house — the ghost's home. Their route is the labyrinth (99), in that their time in the house changes their understanding of the situation as well as their reaction to the ghost. They go from being afraid of her to wanting to help her. All together, then, volume 5 is about marginalized travelers going home via the labyrinth (666699).

Volume six is Revenge of the Horned Bunnies (2012).

Five stars

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