Some Halloween Reading: The Smile of a Ghost, by Phil Rickman

The Smile of a Ghost (Merrily Watkins, #7)Kindred spirits

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s more than one ghost in historic, medieval Ludlow, and not all of them are dead yet. There’s legendary Marion, who jumped to her death from the Hanging Tower at Ludlow Castle, more than 500 years ago, and she’s still making personal appearances. There’s Robbie Walsh, the 14 year old history buff who falls from the tower as the novel opens, and the reverberations from his death refuse to dissipate. There’s Bella Donna, burnt out Goth pop star, who thinks Ludlow is her own personal heaven, and wanders the streets and churchyards singing about Wee Willie Winkie. Finally, there’s Lol, almost-famous rock musician who can’t quite escape his troubled past.

Into this mix steps the Reverend Merrily Watkins, diocesan exorcist, who’s being hounded by some newly appointed consultants who seem to want to shut her down. The mayor of Ludlow believes the castle must be spiritually cleansed, before the weirdness that has recently taken hold in town can be brought under control. But there are just as many hidden agendas among the principle characters as there are among the ghosts.

Smile is an eloquently written ghost story wrapped in a mystery, and the suspense never flags. The final scenes are nothing less than captivating, and the reader is left wanting more Merrily mysteries. First rate fiction.

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