After years of being known primarily as “Ghost Girl” thanks to her father’s job as a paranormal expert and ghost hunter extraordinaire, fifteen-year-old Chelsea is finally living her best life. She’s actually started to fit in with her privileged peers (mostly), a group of friends she just can’t say no to. Summer is almost here, and things are looking up! Until being busted for underage drinking at a party in a local cemetery gets Chelsea and her friends in hot water. Chelsea is officially grounded, and sentenced to a summer helping out with her dad’s company, Ghost Roast.
Not only that, but thanks to Chelsea’s influencer friends, her Dad’s Ghost Roast commercial goes viral and nets her Dad and his team a job at Harrington Manor—a former plantation estate haunted by the ghosts of its slave-holding past, both literally and figuratively.
Chelsea has chosen not to believe in ghosts until she finds she’s inherited her Great-Grandma Hazel’s gift to see and speak with the dead. That should make working for her dad’s business a breeze, right? Not exactly.
Chelsea’s dad is set on using his own Ghost-Roaster (patent pending) to eradicate any presence they find and Chelsea’s not quite sure she has the stomach for it. Especially when those ghostly presences include an adorable ghost cat and equally charming ghost boy, Oliver. But not all of Harrington’s ghosts are friendly. There’s a presence behind the bridge that is anything but. Could this spirit somehow be connected to the death Oliver can’t remember?
My favorite thing about ghosts is that they always have a history behind them, a mystery to solve. Ghost Roast utilizes this potential to its fullest. While the Harrington plantation and its ghosts are fictional, the stories they tell mirror so many to be found in New Orleans’ past and throughout the American south.
While Ghost Roast acknowledges the tragedies of slavery and segregation, in Oliver, it chooses to uplift the sorts of heroes that history forgets, and the hidden ties that connect us. That is not to say that Ghost Roast is a dark tale. On the contrary, it manages to balance some of the tougher topics it addresses with empathy and humor. Ghost Roast deals with serious topics, without ever taking itself too seriously.
Despite being a ghost story, it’s certainly not a scary one. It has a bubbly, colorful art style, somewhat dorky humor, and plenty of heartwarming moments—and not just romantic ones. Chelsea’s relationships with her family, her friends, and her heritage all grow and evolve over the course of the story, leading to a truly sweet conclusion. This would be a great October recommendation for middle and high schoolers who want to celebrate spooky season but aren’t fans of horror.
By Shawneé Gibbs, Shawnelle Gibbs
Art by Emily Cannon
Publisher Age Rating: 13+
NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Teen (13-16)
Creator Representation: African-American
Character Representation: African-American