Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

2016-standout-award-badge-smallWhat a beautiful novel! Gorgeously vivid descriptive writing, a complex mystery, and a heartbreaking love story make Ghost Talkers one of my top picks for the year.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ghost talkersTitle: Ghost Talkers
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Series: stand-alone
Publish Date: August 16, 2016
Genre: Historical fantasy
Source: From the publisher at BEA 16

Publisher’s DescriptionGinger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Hartshorne, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.

Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

What drew me to this book: I discovered this book at BEA 16. I recognized Mary Robinette Kowal’s name as an audiobook narrator for the October Daye series. She is also an author with several books in print, but this is the first of hers that I have read. The book has a beautiful Chris McGrath cover that can’t fail to catch the eye

What kept me reading: I found everything about this book to be beautiful: the world-building, the characters, the relationships, and the vividly descriptive writing.

The premise of this book is unique to me. Ghost Talkers is set during World War II. The British army has a secret weapon—the Spirit Corps. Concealed among the WAC, the Spirit Core is made up of mediums and their support “circles” who take reports from the ghosts of soldiers who have died on the front. The soldiers are conditioned to report to the Corps before their spirit can cross over. This gives the British Army a great advantage in intelligence gathering.

This book is part mystery and part love story. Kowal creates a relationship between the two principles that is absolutely heartbreaking. There’s also a beautiful relationship among the members of the protagonist’s circle. The mystery is satisfyingly complex and the stakes are high, which kept me totally engaged.

Mediums and sensitives can see auras, and auras communicate emotions. The way Kowal describes emotions in auras is fascinating. She describes protective anger as red plate armor and fury as sweeping red wings. Fear can either be smokey black tendrils or a tight, controlled ball of dark energy. Each emotion has a color or a shape and her descriptions are amazingly vivid.

badge5v4Being a voice performer, Kowal gets to narrate her own audiobook. I’m looking forward to experiencing the book again through the eyes, and voice, of the author herself.

Why I recommend it: Ghost Talkers makes my short list of top books of the year. It’s unique, gorgeous, and deeply moving. I can’t recommend it enough.

Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal is great. I give it 5 stars! You should just go get it and start reading now. It’s set in WWI and uses mediums to help understand the strategy and moment-to-moment movements of the German army. It’s a unique use of the paranormal dropped into historical events.

I enjoyed the main character, Ginger, and how self-assured she is. I enjoyed that the mystery keeps building and that even to the last moment you don’t know who the spy is and how Ginger will get away, much less convince others to believe her. I also enjoyed that the author included the regiment from India, which is not often brought up in WWI novels and they played a crucial role in the story and in history. Helen is another medium that Ginger relies on heavily and the fact that Helen is a black woman from the Caribbean Islands just adds to the complexity of the story, during a time period of war when the roles of minorities were changing.

badge5v4The author has also written the Glamourist Histories series and I am really excited to read those books because of how well written this one is.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

About Invested Ivana

I'm an adult learning professional, a book blogger at One Book Two, and lifetime reader. I like geeky things. All opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not reflect the opinions of my employers, my clients, the other reviewers on this site, or this site as a whole.

Posted on January 1, 2017, in All Reviews, Standout Award and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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