'Demelza and the Spectre Detectors' by Holly Rivers is fabulously eccentric and immensely enjoyable. Full of mad-cap inventions, whimsical ghosts, and characters to adore (alive ones and ghostly ones), this is a huge amount of fun with colour, charm and enough twists and turns to keep you awake until the dead of night.
Demelza loves to stay up late creating inventions, in spite of her grandmother's protestations. But when Demelza discovers what her grandmother gets up to late at night too - spectre detecting - her life is turned upside-down. Soon Demelza becomes an apprentice, learning to summon the dead, until her grandmother is kidnapped and Demelza will have to use all her skills to find her before it is too late.
Holly Rivers has created a marvellous and quirky character in Demelza. I love protagonists who have wit, charm and intelligence and Demelza is one of the best; sure to captivate children with her spooky and funny adventures for years to come. There are so many things for readers to enjoy here: crazy inventions, ghosts, rituals, secrets, sweets and characters to love and loathe. The stakes are raised throughout, like a cauldron bubbling more and more, until everything explodes with potent force at the end - to leave you gasping and then grinning with joy. But at the heart of the soupy mix of scares, fun and humour, is the relationship between Demelza and her wacky grandma. There are moments of touching tenderness between them and, ultimately, the threat to her grandma is what we care about most. The exchange of 'I love you more than teapots' and 'I love you more than circuit boards' is beautifully sweet.
There are enough twists and turns, and potential further world-building, to promise a fantastic series here. I'm always wary to compare anything to Harry Potter, but Holly Rivers has created something with a similar feel of energy, imagination and charm. Imagine the ghosts at Hogwarts forming a secret society in a small English village and you might begin to get what I mean.
'Demelza and the Spectre Detectors' deserves a lot of attention and buzz - this is a series I can see becoming big! Read it before everyone else does.