Mary Robinette Kowal’s Ghost Talkers is a compulsive, affecting read. I read the whole book in two sittings because I just had to know what happened next in Kowal’s alternate version of World War I. Ghost Talkers opens in July of 1916. British, French, and German troops are bogged down in the trenches. The difference is that this time the British have a secret weapon: ghosts. Mediums hold seances after battles to get intelligence on German troop movements and armaments. They’ve kept the secret for two years, but the word is getting out.
Ginger Stuyvesant is an American working for Britain’s Spirit Corps. She interviews ghosts of recently deceased soldiers and the work is wearing her own, physically and emotionally. Still, she has a duty. She also has a fiancé who works for British Intelligence. They can keep an eye on each other if she’s in Le Harve.
The book wastes no time getting its plot rolling. After a seance and some military administrative wrangling with a dash of sexism, things start to go wrong. Two British officers are murdered. Then, the Spirit Corps are flooded with men who died too far from the front to provide usable intelligence. Because no one will listen to Ginger’s suspicions, she decides to investigate before the Germans get their hands on the Brits’ secrets.
Ghost Talkers, like Kowal’s other novels, packs a lot of character development, pathos, and skilled world building into a tightly constructed plot. My only complaint? I wanted more story. I want to know what happens next for Ginger.
I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley for review consideration. It will be released 16 August 2016. Edited to remove a spoiler at the author’s request.