In Linda Collison’s new novel, Water Ghosts, seven troubled teenagers embark on a vintage Chinese junk on a Pacific “adventure-therapy” voyage, to either help them work out their problems or just possibly to get them out of their parents’ hair. Among the motley voyagers is fifteen-year-old James McCafferty. While all teenagers, at one time or another, feel that no one sees the world as they do, James has it far worst than most. He says, “I see things other people don’t see; I hear things other people don’t hear.” Once at sea, James has premonitions of doom and believes that the ship is being taken over by Ming Dynasty spirits. It doesn’t help that the junk’s crew is disappearing or dying.
Collison, who has sailed the Pacific herself, captures the very tactile and real world of life aboard. At the same time, she evokes the otherworldly sense of being on a small boat adrift on an a vast, windless ocean where even time and space can also seem to come adrift. Are the voices of the dead in the water real, or just in James’ head? Are the doldrums driving James mad or is something even more sinister at hand? In Water Ghosts, the tension is as palpable as the equatorial heat and the rolling of the old junk in the incessant swells.
Water Ghosts is an absolutely gripping paranormal nautical adventure. While intended for young adults, it can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Highly recommended.