Format: E-Galley, 304 pages
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Hartshorne, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.
Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she's just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…
Ghost Talkers, by author Mary Robinette Kowal, is a Historical Fiction novel with Paranormal aspects about a group known as Spirit Corps. The story takes place during The Great War (World War I) where British soldiers have been conditioned to report back what they've seen before they end up dead. The Spirit Corps is made up of seven individuals. 2 mediums who can see the dead and are at risk for losing themselves completely, 4 unsighted who help keep the medium from losing themselves, and 1 aide to ensure that reports are sent to proper avenues. One of these mediums is American Heiress Ginger Stuyvesant.
Ginger is engaged to an Intelligence officer named Captain Benjamin Hartshorne. While the synopsis says that Ginger is living in London, I dare say without fear of spoilers, that most of the story takes place elsewhere. While Ginger is good at her job, she is also part of the hospitality tent for British Soldiers returning from the war as women are only allowed to serve as nurses in the British Army. It takes a heart breaking loss to force Ginger into action. She needs to discover who is betraying the group and why and she needs to do it before her true love has to move on.
What's interesting about this story, besides the whole Spirit Corps idea, is the fact that the author uses Historical figures like Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to tell her story. While campaigning against Spiritualism in any form, the pair are actively recruiting women to help fight against the Central Powers. Central Powers who know that these women exist, and will do anything they can to stop them. This is a story that is filled with Spiritualism, conspiracies, betrayals, romance, and a central character who you can genuinely connect to because she is dealing with the realities of war, being under men who don't understand the importance of women, or the idea that if she loses control even once, she may never come back.
I liked the idea of ghosts reporting back what they learned before they are able to move on to the next existence. I also liked the romance between Ginger and Benjamin. Even in death. This is also an author who isn't afraid to use diverse characters to tell her story. Like Helen Jackson from the Indies. Like Corporal Patel from India who are both central figures to the story and it's crescendo. I have seen other reviewers hoping that there will be an additional sequel to this story. I have to offer my hopes as well. I think that there is plenty of avenues left for Ginger and the Spirit Corps. After all, this is only 1916, the war hasn't even reached the point where America has joined the efforts.