Ghost Messages

29 June 2011

Ghost Messages
by Jacqueline Guest
Published by Coteau Books for Kids
Review by Jessica Bickford
$8.95 13:9781550504583

Ailish O’Connor is like any other thirteen year old girl living in Ireland in 1865, except she has what her father calls the “fey gift”. Ailish can see into your soul with the touch of her hand. She uses her gift to keep her and her father fed, telling fortunes that most think are a “penny’s entertainment” until her Da brings Rufus Dalton to their wagon. Ailish feels his darkness, but doesn’t know just how evil he is until she wakes up to find her father near death, and their one precious possession, a golden figurine which was to be their future, stolen.

In Jacqueline Guest’s newest juvenile fiction Ghost Messages, a young girl is faced with a ship-full of trouble and will do anything to ensure the future of her and her father. This includes sneaking on to the Great Eastern as it departs Ireland for its mission to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable between Europe and North America, cutting her long hair, donning trousers, and putting in her labour as a cabin boy.

Luckily she meets David Jones, who is about her age and claims to be a bash boy working on the ship. Ailish is suspicious of Davy at first, because strangely she “got no feeling from him”, but he proves himself to be her ally and curiously shows up just when he is needed most. Davy isn’t her only friend aboard the marvelous Great Eastern though, as she quickly forms a bond with fellow Irishman Paddy Whelan, who also knows how dangerous Rufus Dalton truly is.

From a time when Morse code was the only form of instant communication, Ailish’s hard work, infallible loyalty, cunning, and drive to save the future of her family creates a thrilling tale. Ghost Messages is a book for any teen that loves mystery, history, adventure or just a little bit of the uncanny.


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