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The Mystery of Albert E. Finch by Callie Hutton and Nano Nagle (Narrator)
Oh My Gods! The Forgotten Maze by Stephanie Cooke, Insha Fitzpatrick, and Juliana Moon (Illustrations)
Phantoms by J.A. White
Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen R. Lee
The Princess in Black and the Mermaid Princess by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and LeUyen Pham (Illustrations)
Savvy Sheldon Feels Good as Hell by Taj McCoy
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Phantoms: 04/11/22


Phantoms by J.A. White is the conclusion to the Shadow School trilogy. This one differs from the previous two in that it takes place off school grounds. By moving out of the Shadow School, the author is able to some final world building to explore how ghosts and ghouls work without the benefit of magical architecture.

The novel opens with a school field trip. The students are visiting a natural history museum built in the shape of an ark. While they're there the phantom of the man who built the museum. Before Cordelia, Benji or Agnes can do anything, the phantom is captured by a team from Shady Rest.

I expected the novel to take place entirely at the ark. It's the inspiration for the cover art. Instead, Cordelia, Benji and Agnes end up working for Shady Rest. The place is designed as a retirement village for ghosts. The people who do the ghost catching have equipment that's reminiscent of the Ghostbusters. But none of the adults have the ability to see ghosts and they need help if they are going to stay in business.

Now reading this as an adult, I could see right away the holes in the story that Shady Rest tells Cordelia, Benji and Agnes. If I had been the intended age of reader, I would have been completely sucked in. At their age, I worked for my grandmother and had access to adult spaces in ways I otherwise wouldn't have.

Although this book is the official ending of the trilogy, White has left himself an entry point. The book ends with the trio receiving the keys to Shadow School and an open invitation to visit whenever they feel like it. If there were to be a high school, YA, side story, I would certainly read it.

Chart showing the three books in relationship to each other on the Road Narrative Spectrum

Like the previous two volumes, Phantoms sits on the Road Narrative Spectrum. Volume three ends in a similar place to where the series began. The students working outside of their school under a secretive pretense, are returned to being marginalized (66) travelers. Their destination is a rural one (33), namely Shady Rest. Their route there is the labyrinth (99) in that their discovery at the Ark wasn't as coincidental as first thought; also their work for Shady Rest requires a lot of self reflection and causes strain on the friendship.

Five stars

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