I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter (Bk. 1) by Brian K. Henry

Book Description

Moody sixteen-year-old barista Devin Mulwray is doing his best to ignore bizarre manifestations at his job in the chilly Northern California town of Arcata. Already teased about his recurrent ‘phase-outs’, the last thing he needs is to get pegged as a guy who sees ghosts. It doesn’t help his state of mind that his boss is a sarcastic slacker, his single dad is always on the road with clients and local occult fan girl Nayra is spreading ‘ghost boy’ rumors about him online. But when violent paranormal activity badly spooks teens at an abandoned estate, Devin’s pushed into investigating by his eccentric friends Clive, a budding composer, and Rex, a tech head excited by ghost hunting gadgetry. At first reluctant to get involved, Devin’s encouraged when Emily, one of the more empathetic girls at Grey Bluff High, is impressed with his daring. Together the friends explore the creepy Rousten manor. But as the only person able to perceive the manifestations, Devin soon finds himself going one-on-one against a powerful spirit who attacks the locals and infiltrates Devin’s own dreams. Devin must face his fear of confronting the spirit world and get to the bottom of the hauntings before the specter unleashes more havoc on him and his friends.

Cover art by Christopher Park of Plant Monster Studios

My Review

This review originally appeared on www.bookblurb.ca

I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter is a YA ghost story set in a contemporary world of eye rolls and hair flicks, in a small seaside Northern Californian town called Arcata.  Devin Mulwray is a pretty normal 16 year old high schooler, working part time in a local coffee shop, apart from one thing – he can see ghosts. It all started when he was at camp in Junior High and had a ghostly vision. He has forgotten all about this but his friend who was also at camp remembers. Combine that with the ghostly woman he often sees in the walnut tree over the road from his work, and Devin is getting scared by his paranormal abilities. It doesn’t help that his friends do not respect his wishes for them to keep quiet about these experiences, and one of them posts on the social media platform ‘GhostSpace” while the other let’s stories spread around school. Now Devin is getting called “ghost boy” and finding himself distracted and having “phase-outs” in class. Brian K. Henry has managed to write the typical sarcastic banter of these teenage friends and bring the teenagers to life really well.

A mysterious event during a party leads Devin’s quirky British composer friend Clive to the abandoned Rousten House to try and record eerie sounds, and in the process Devin finds himself responding to a terrified phone call from Clive, begging for his help. The author’s description of the outside of the Rousten property is very atmospheric and sets a spooky scene for the events that are about to unfold. Devin eventually locates Clive and the two of them search in the dark haunted house for Clive’s phone which he dropped when pushed by a ghostly presence. Separated, Devin experiences another ghostly vision but Clive only hears a voice shouting “Intruder”.

Devin’s friends Rex and Clive are set on starting a ghost investigation of the seemingly haunted Rousten mansion but Devin doesn’t really want a part of it. Unnerved by his newfound abilities he just wants a quiet life. However when Rex buys a whole host of investigation equipment from the ghost store Devin reluctantly agrees to be a part of the plan, becoming more enthusiastic when a girl he likes calls him to say how brave she considers him and his ghost investigations.

Devin discovers he can also talk to the ghosts he sees and tries to calm down the enraged Rutherford Rousten who then starts throwing books at him. He tries to speak to the ghostly lady he often sees when he is at work but this proves not to be useful to the team’s Rousten House investigation. Meanwhile clothes start attacking people in a part of town near the mansion house and the boys’ online investigation finds out that Rousten was a clothier – could this all be connected somehow? What did the ghostly lady want to tell Devin?

I particularly liked a scene where the three boys took off in pursuit of flying books, trying to see where they were headed – it reminded me of scenes from Disney films such as The Sorceror’s Apprentice or Beauty and the Beast. Devin is also attacked by a floating rug, which brought to mind the flying carpet from Aladdin.

All in all I Was a Teenage Ghost Hunter is more humorous than scary and the banter between the characters is entertaining and works very well:

“Spooky as hell. It’s kind of big, rippling and kind of bat-like. Like it’s got some dark freaky wings.”
“Right on the center of the roof!”
Devin looked around, saw nothing incredibly creepy, then realized his jacket was blowing out fiercely on both sides.
“That’s me, Clive. My jacket’s whipping around.”

I found the characters likeable and although there was a lot of teasing and sharing of rumour on social media, when asked not to, it couldn’t really be classed as cyber-bullying. By the end of the story the boys were considered heroes and had gained the respect of their fellow classmates. I did find the ending a little disappointing – it could have been much more exciting and spookier.

Do the boys find out why the ghost of Rutherford Rousten is haunting his manor? Will Devin get the girl? Read I Was A Teenage Ghost Hunter to find out!

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About the Author

Brian K. Henry holds a PhD. in English and is the author of the humorous fantasy novel “House of Prension” and the sci-fi parodies “Space Command and the Planet of the Bejewelled Concubines” and “Space Command and the Planets of Doom.” Henry’s other works include a variety of comedy screenplays (“Zak Bedford, Punk Detective”, “Inspirational Movie” and others) and numerous short prose pieces. His script work includes collaborations with the Tyrants in Therapy and Rajesh Golla, co-writer on “Devil’s Highway Blues”.

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