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Saturday, May 05, 2012

WHISPER By Alyson Noel. Riley Bloom Book 4. London, Macmillan, 2012.

This is the fourth volume of the Riley Bloom series of children’s books, which is in itself a spinoff of the Immortals series. I haven’t read any of those, but had no trouble following this story.
Riley Bloom is twelve years old and would very much like to be thirteen or maybe more. Only problem is, she’s dead, along with her parents and beloved dog Buttercup, and you don’t usually get any older when you’re a ghost. 
But Riley has other concerns right now. She is a Soul Catcher, whose job is to visit ghosts who can’t let go of their attachment to this world and persuade them to move on. Her current assignment is Theocoles, a Roman gladiator who haunts the Colosseum, where he died thousands of years ago. Theocoles and his girlfriend, Messalina, the niece of his owner, are stuck in a perpetual loop, reliving the twenty-four hours leading up to his death. Theocoles became addicted to the cheers of the crowd, like any rock star today, and simply won’t move on. And Messalina, who loves him, won’t move on without him.
Riley finds herself lured in, after other Soul Catchers have entered this scenario and not come back. Messalina gives her a makeover and and an admirer. She is now gorgeous and teenaged. Can she snap out of this before she, too, is caught up in the perpetual Groundhog Day suffered by Messalina and Theocoles?
This is a sweet story which I thoroughly enjoyed and think might appeal to mid-school girls from about twelve up. The characters are appealing and endearing and it’s probably not too much of a spoiler to reveal that Riley does carry out her assignment, helping both Theocoles and Messalina.
Worth a read.

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