The Ministry of Ghosts by Alex Shearer is a mystery, an adventure, and tale of true friendship all rolled into one funny, heart-warming book. The four employees of The Ministry of Ghosts enjoy working together in their tucked-away office, working on trying to prove or disprove the existence of ghosts once and for all. The trouble is, the ministry has been working on this problem for two hundred years, and a new government employee is determined to close it down as useless—unless, that is, they can provide proof of ghosts in three months. Desperate to keep their jobs, the Ministry employees hire two children from the local school, Thruppence and Tim, to help them find ghosts.
Alex Shearer plays with sentence style and structure for fun, and includes plenty of humorous asides, some of which younger readers will definitely get and a few which are likely for adults who have had to deal with bureaucracy regularly. He also includes clues about where the ghosts are and how the two hunters might find them, slyly inserting them in descriptions and conversation.
Some readers might find it off-putting that the two child protagonists are not introduced until seventy pages in, but the pages before are far from wasted and the characters introduced there are as important as Thruppence and Tim. Relationships between characters are solidly built, with several unexpected and enduring friendships forming. The nature of love also gets examined—quietly and amidst a fast-moving, crazy, funny plot.
There are manuals on ghost hunting, an unusual clergyman, twisting alleys, wooden legs, and adventure which enters unexpectedly for
Such is the way of adventures and of the people who have them. Some lucky people attract them, the way magnets attract bits of metal, and their lives are nothing but adventures, all the way to the end.
Maybe if one tapped you on the shoulder, too, you might not turn away either. Even if it scared you half to death.
As adventures often do.
Especially spooky ones.
Recommended for readers who enjoy ghost stories without requiring them to be scary, who enjoy solving problems, and who like characters with lots of pluck and initiative.