Review Blog

Nov 19 2014

The Ministry of Ghosts by Alex Shearer

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Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471403880
Do ghosts exist? Can it be proven? The Ministry of Ghosts is on the case . . . or is it? This is an adventure that 'creeps up on you softly and taps you on the shoulder'.
In an obsure building, in an out of the way place called Bric-a- Brac street, is the Ministry of Ghosts where four civil servants, and a cat, attend to the serious business of investigating the existence of ghosts and reporting their quarterly progress, to the government, as they have done since 1792. Unfortunately they have not produced any evidence of ghostly existence in all that time.
Enter Mr Beeston, from the Economies Office, unofficially known as the Department of Cuts, bent on closing down this, in his opinion, time and money wasting Ministry and relocating its employees to Ministry of Sewage. With only three months to prove what they have been unable to in over 200 years, a plan of action is put in place.
For a small wage Thruppence and Tim, students from the local primary school are employed to search out ghosts, as it is well known that children are more likely to be aware of their presence.
As the children investigate and learn more, they become anxious to save the Ministry of Ghosts and its employees. Will they find a ghost in time and if not how will they convince Mr Beeston to allow the Ministry to continue? Or is the answer to their problem in plain sight?
Written in the formal style of older times, reflecting the times and values of the older characters and the formality of English government departments, this story moves slowly but is entertaining in its descriptions of the inner workings of the Ministry. The introduction of the young investigators contrasts with this formality as they bring light, life and a modern touch to the language and to the Ministry.
Sue Keane

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