Ghosts of War: Fallen in Fredericksburg

Written by Steve Watkins
Review by Arleigh Johnson

Fourth in a series about a trio of 6th grade paranormal sleuths, this story finds the protagonists once again on the trail of historical clues. Anderson, Greg, and Julie are practicing songs for their band, Ghosts of War, in the basement of Anderson’s uncle’s old antique store in Frederickburg, Virginia, when a Civil War ghost appears. Something is not quite right about this ghost, and as the friends dig deeper into the mystery, they find there is more history surrounding them than they’d ever imagined. Discovering the ghost’s background story is of utmost importance as the anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg looms.

The history relayed in this novel is impressive, yet has been written in such a way to keep a young reader’s interest. Parts are humorous, and there are also life lessons and emotional scenes, such as Anderson’s care and concern for his ailing mother. Greg is also dealing with problems at home, as he goes to family AA meetings with his father, a Vietnam veteran. The three main characters may seem familiar to Harry Potter readers, as they have some of the same physical and personality traits as Rowling’s protagonists, such as Greg’s red hair, Julie’s cleverness and their seeming fondness for one another. But these mystery-solving kids do not live in a magical world; the only paranormal element is the friendly ghost, looking for resolution.

This is a great young adult historical series that teaches in the very best way: by entertaining. The characters are well-rounded, curious, determined and good-hearted, which is everything needed for a satisfying 4th – 6th grade novel.