Saturday, December 22, 2018

Book Review: Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

Ghost Talkers
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
Publication: Tor Books; Reprint edition (August 8, 2017)

Description: Ghost Talkers is a brilliant historical fantasy novel from acclaimed author Mary Robinette Kowal featuring the mysterious spirit corps and their heroic work in World War I.

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, 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 fiancĂ© 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…

My Thoughts: This was a wonderful historical fantasy set during World War I. Ginger Stuyvesant is an American heiress who is engaged to Captain Ben Harford, an English intelligence officer. Ginger is also a medium and one of the women who take reports from soldiers who die in battle and then watch them go into the light. Their skills and their location is a secret from the Germans since the intelligence they gather helps in the war effort.

She and Ben are harassed by a drunken soldier one evening when they are out together and Ben fights him off. Imagine Ginger's surprise when the same soldier's ghost comes to her the next day to tell her that he was murdered after overhearing threats to the Spirit Corps. When Ginger brings this news to her commanding officer, he is quick to dismiss her information. However, Ben has also been picking up rumors of a traitor in the ranks. When he is murdered, he comes to give his final report but refuses to go on to the light until he finds the one who killed him and the traitor who endangers Ginger and the rest of the Spirit Corps.

She and Ben are in a time crunch. The longer he stays, the worse his memory gets as his personality fragments. And Ginger is torn between her loss and broken heart, and the best good for Ben. They need to retrace his steps and track down the clues that he found to the traitor when he doesn't remember any of it.

I thought the setting and time period with its endemic chauvinism and racism was well done. One of Ginger's colleagues is West Indian. She's the one who developed the technique that has the dead coming to them to report. However, her skin color makes it easy for the commanding officer to ignore her contributions. Another key character is an Indian truck driver who hides the fact that he is also a medium.

The romance between Ben and Ginger was wonderfully realized. I was heartbroken knowing that the relationship had to end. This was a great story filled with memorable characters.

Favorite Quote:
Without a circle, in the fragile state that she was in, her danger of losing her grip on her body was much increased. But she couldn't let him wander without someone to anchor him, and they had to find out who killed him. "I'll need to be able to hear you while we're in there."

He groaned a little. "I would much prefer it if you weren't right."

"But, darling, I always am. It would be a difficult habit to break now." She raised her hand and knocked on the door.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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