I’ve been celebrating since May 5th, 2020 when the IWSG Anthology Voyagers: The Third Ghost: The Third Ghostwas released to the world. Yet, back when the 2019 competition was announced, I hesitated about entering a story as I’d never written any Middle Grade fiction.
Eventually, I was gently persuaded to write something. But I was surprised to be among the 10 chosen authors in this anthology. Voyagers was inspirational to be involved with, and it proved a chance to meet and work with nine talented writers – and a great editor.
So, I may be tempted to create a 2020 submission. Anyway, here is my review, now I’ve read and enjoyed every phrase of this wonderful collection.
Yvonne Ventresca (Goodreads Author),
Sherry Ellis (Goodreads Author)
Bish Denham (Goodreads Author)
Charles Kowalski (Goodreads Author)
Katharina Gerlach (Goodreads Author)
Roland Clarke (Goodreads Author)
Rebecca M. Douglass (Goodreads Author)
Beth Anderson Schuck (Goodreads Author)
Journey into the past…
Will the third ghost be found before fires take more lives? Can everyone be warned before Pompeii is buried again? What happens if a blizzard traps a family in East Germany? Will the Firebird help Soviet sisters outwit evil during WWII? And sneaking off to see the first aeroplane – what could go wrong?
Ten authors explore the past, sending their young protagonists on harrowing adventures. Featuring the talents of Yvonne Ventresca, Katharina Gerlach, Roland Clarke, Sherry Ellis, Rebecca M. Douglass, Bish Denham, Charles Kowalski, Louise MacBeath Barbour, Beth Anderson Schuck, and L.T. Ward.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales will take readers on a voyage of wonder into history. Get ready for an exciting ride!
Review 5 stars
Every one of these stories was different in style, historical period, use of plot elements, and varied appearances of the unexpected from folklore to time travel. Ten marvellous reads and not just for Middle Age readers as this finicky retiree can attest. This anthology kept me reading from cover to cover with minimal breaks.
1. The Third Ghost by Yvonne Ventresca
This poignant story set in 1981 kept me riveted through to the twist at the end, even though I sensed it coming – although, the foreshadowing was subtle and hidden. Yvonne Ventresca makes the costly tragedy of arson elicit our concerns for justice with powerful descriptions. The emotions pulled me through the journey, and her beautiful crafting of words had me in tears by the end of The Third Ghost.
2. The Ghosts of Pompeii by Sherry Ellis
The humour mixed with the historical morsels was entertaining. Bubba and Squirt are fun characters with wonderful banter – I loved the sticking-out tongues. The pizza thread is tasty too. The mix of elements from ghosts to time travel worked well and were neatly blended into this delicious treat.
3. The Blind Ship by Bish Denham
I related to this dark and emotional story as I grew up with abolitionist ancestors – so a conscience. Bish Denham has crafted a powerful and moving tale based on real historical events recorded by the twelve-year-old boy. Her youngster’s ability to see ‘Negros’ as humans and not slaves was rare but motivational. Tragically the terrors of slavery still exist.
4. Dare, Double Dare by Louise MacBeath Barbour
Kids goading each other into an adventure provides a neat opening hook for this intriguing time travel tale. The story makes skilful use of 1600s Canada with its mix of French and Mi’kmaq culture, including language. These are neatly integrated, and a glimpse of history is included that few know about.
5. Return to Cahokia by L.T. Ward
In Return to Cahokia we are treated to heavenly magic with siblings creating weather – the Warm Weather Gods. L.T. Ward paints an atmospheric journey through her vibrant use of the sky, clouds, rain, wind, and sun. This story brings to life the rich Native American heritage of the Cahokia tribe blending mythology and archaeological fact.
6. Feathered Fire by Roland Clarke
Feathered Fire is my own creation so all I will add is it proved a worthwhile challenge merging history – heroic Soviet airwomen and tragic Ukrainian dilemmas during World War II – with the legends of the Zharptica (Firebird) a rich vein in Slavic folklore.
7. The Orchard by Beth Anderson Schuck
Beth Schuck has crafted an alluring story in The Orchard where nature flourishes in the face of disbelief. For me as a dedicated Green, I was captivated by Nels with her special connection to trees and other creatures. Dryads must be as real as portrayed here, even if most of us are blind to their blessings. A favourite among so many.
8. Simon Grey and the Yamamba by Charles Kowalski
Although Japan with its extensive and deep culture are unfamiliar, Charles Kowalski brings his 1620s setting to life, balancing wonderful descriptions, living folklore – some scary – testing trials, and historical nuggets. Yet even this legendary monster echoes Western nightmares – the universality of folklore.
9. A World of Trouble by Rebecca Douglass
Back when aeroplanes were a once in a lifetime encounter, sneaking off to see one at a young age makes sense – sometimes. Throw in an impending disaster from floodwater, and you have Rebecca Douglass’s tension ramped A World of Trouble. The dilemma at its heart involves a realistic race against time.
10. Winter Days by Katharina Gerlach
Having seen the Iron Curtain between West and East Germany, I connected to this gripping tale of crossing that border and getting trapped on the wrong side. With her German roots, Katharina Gerlach has captured the family fears emanating from the greyness of the East and the father’s past. The use of ‘gray’ to colour everything is masterly as is the sense of cold becoming deep snow. However, humanity must shine through.
Title: Voyagers: The Third Ghost
Author(s): Yvonne Ventresca, Sherry Ellis, Bish Denham, Charles Kowalski, Katharina Gerlach, Roland Clarke, Rebecca M. Douglass, Beth Anderson Schuck, Louise MacBeath Barbour, and L.T. Ward
Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press
Story – five stars
Setting/World-building – five stars
Characters – five stars
Authenticity – five stars
Structure – five stars
Readability – five stars
Editing – five stars