The Ghosts of Ashbury High – by Jaclyn Moriarty
I knew I would love this book—I’ve loved all of Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury High books—but I didn’t expect it to rival The Year of Secret Assignments in my affections. I haven’t quite decided yet which of the two is my favorite of the four books. The Year of Secret Assignments has something which The Ghosts of Ashbury High doesn’t have nearly enough of. That something has a name and it is Charlie. He’s not completely absent from the newest book, but it’s not quite enough and I sincerely hope that there will be a fifth book someday to remedy this. However, The Ghosts of Ashbury High has an extra little something that none of the other books have. I can’t tell you what it is without spoiling things, but it’s the sort of thing that will always make me love a story just a little bit more.
The Ghosts of Ashbury High is connected to the previous three books and features many of the same characters, as well as some new ones, but you don’t have to have read the others to enjoy this one. There are two mysterious new students at Ashbury High named Riley and Amelia, and everyone is fascinated by them, including Emily, Cassie, and Lydia. There are also many strange things happening in the school and Emily is convinced that there is a ghost haunting one of the classrooms. She struggles to prove the ghost’s existence while trying to find out the truth about Riley and Amelia.
The story is told entirely in the form of letters, emails, blog entries, exam responses, and essays, and it is fascinating to see many of the same events from four different perspectives. Any one narrator would not be very reliable but with all four together, you start to see the whole picture. There are so many twists and turns that even if you guess the answers to some questions, there will always be something else to surprise you. The voices of the four narrators are all entirely unique, from the poetic and serious Riley to the hysterical and exuberant Emily. All in all, this book is delightful, funny, mysterious, exciting, and wholly satisfying.