I love ghost stories, adventure stories, and stories set in New Zealand. Sue Copsey has combined all of my favourite types of stories in to her explosive new book, The Ghosts of Tarawera.
On holiday near Rotorua, Joe and Eddie are fascinated by the area’s bubbling mud pools and boiling geysers. Local volcanologist Rocky tells them about the Pink and White Terraces that existed on the lake where they’re staying, and how they were destroyed in the cataclysmic 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera. But Joe’s fascination turns to unease when strange sightings on the lake and dark rumblings from the Earth hint that the volcano is reawakening. Can he persuade Rocky, who puts his faith only in science, to sound a warning?
The Ghosts of Tarawera is an action-packed adventure with a good dose of spookiness. Much like the pressure building inside a volcano, the suspense builds until it reaches its explosive conclusion. There is a sense of impending doom right from the start which made me want to keep reading to find out how it all ended. The front cover (which I love) suggests that an eruption will occur, but when, where and how you just don’t know.
The story is set around Rotorua in the modern day and follows Jo and Eddie who are on holiday with Jo’s family. It reminded me of Elsie Locke’s Canoe in the Mist (which was set in 1886 at the time of the huge eruption of Mount Tarawera). The ghostly waka that warned of the 1886 eruption appears in The Ghosts of Tarawera to warn Joe of the trouble that is brewing below them. Sue also looks at how ghosts might use other ways to communicate in the age of smart phones. Not only does Jo see the ghostly waka, he is also sent strange text messages and Facebook messages that are trying to tell him something. I loved this idea!
Sue really emerses you in the setting. There is a real sense of place in this book – you feel like you are there at Lake Rotomahana and you can almost smell the sulphur, hear the mud bubbling, hear the birds singing in the bush, and feel heat of the hot pool. Sue made me want to visit Lake Rotomahana and see everything for myself, even with the fictional eruptions of the story.
I really like Sue’s characters. The kids are very relatable and the adults are role models that the kids look up to. I especially like Rocky and Buzz, the two cool GNS geologists who are camped beside the lake investigating the Pink and White Terraces. They take Jo and Eddie under their wings and get their help with taking readings around the lake. Thanks Sue for giving boys some great positive male role models in Rocky and Buzz!
This is something for everyone in Sue Copsey’s books. They are perfect for fans of Des Hunt or anyone who just loves a good adventure story.
Make sure you check out Sue Copsey’s Seriously Spooky Guest Post about why she likes scary stories.