William B. Wolfe, The Phantom Files: Twain’s Treasure (Dreaming Robot Press 978-1-940924-29-8, $12.95, 247pp, tp) July 2018.
Mark Twain provides the focus for this amusing middle-grade fantasy novel, which follows a boy trying desperately to hide the fact he can see ghosts. Alex April can’t always tell the dead from the living, and that gets him into trouble because the ghosts always want things from him, and aren’t necessarily rational about it. His parents think he’s schizophrenic; he’s being treated with antipsychotics that make him drowsy; his dad left, and his mom had to quit her job, all because of him. Now he’s got a chance to start over in Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal MO, except his English teacher gives him an assignment that requires getting a book on Twain from the town library, a place notoriously haunted by Twain himself. Searching for a treasure he supposedly lost, the ghost demands Alex’s help; no surprise. Twain provides bits of his own trademark humor and some entertainingly educational historical details, while Alex and a friend do the legwork on the search. It turns out both Alex and Twain have issues to resolve. Not a terribly original idea, but fun in its execution.
Carolyn F. Cushman, Senior Editor, has worked for Locus since 1985, the longest of any of the current staff, and handles our in-house books database, writes our New and Notable section, and does the monthly Books Received column. She is a graduate of Western Washington University with a degree in English. She published a fantasy novel, Witch and Wombat, in 1994.
This review and more like it in the October 2018 issue of Locus.
While you are here, please take a moment to support Locus with a one-time or recurring donation. We rely on reader donations to keep the magazine and site going, and would like to keep the site paywall free, but WE NEED YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT to continue quality coverage of the science fiction and fantasy field.