ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties

ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties (Cape Cod Witch, #3)ElsBeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties by J. Bean Palmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book III in the Cape Cod Witch series brings us back together with Elsbeth Amelia Thistle, now a nine year old witch from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It is two years after The Pirate’s Treasure takes place, and Elsbeth and her cast of friends/classmates has grown and matured in the time since.

The story opens by introducing us to a ghost named Durst who is intent on protecting his home and lands from a mysterious adversary referred to as “Gorgeous”. He sends out a call on the Four Winds, a spell searching out that one special person who would come and save his lands – the youngest Thistle.

This adventure begins in earnest when Robert Hillman-Jones, Elsbeth’s antithesis and antagonist, decides he is going to take his uncle’s yacht for a sail. The girls happen upon this secret plan and wrangle their way into it. Mid-sail strange, magical things start to happen. A storm of unbelievable strength and power swoops down on the children and soon they are swept out to open sea, caught in a wind current that propels them through some storytelling and across the ocean to Scotland.

Now, one might give pause to question why nine year old children are permitted to take out a yacht that doesn’t belong to them. You might also question how any of these children even know how to sail a yacht, particularly one without a working GPS system. I briefly questioned the validity of these occurrences and thought it extremely unlikely but this is a story about magic and witches and ghosts and Old World Spirits like the Banshee so suspension of disbelief is inherent in the reading. Of course there’s always perspective: I live in the mountains so life next to the ocean is somewhat beyond my experiential

scope. It is possible these kids are taught to sail from the time they’re out of diapers. Life on the water would be as natural to them as it is for me to visit the various coal mines in my region. Most of these kids come from money, as stated in the story. I also have a child relative to the age of the kids in this story and know how devious they can be if left to their own devices and given time to plot such things. With such dualistic thoughts in my head I opted to just go with enjoying the story for what it was.

The Palmers don’t give you much time to contemplate your questions for long, however, since their plot pacing and writing always moves you swiftly forward. While on the yacht more of the children’s personalities are visited and explored. The groundwork is laid for the ensuing intrigue and adventure through the unique relationships between these children as they bond over worry, confusion and hunger.

When the children finally arrive at their destination, more magical creatures and ghosts are introduced. We meet a selkie seal, a banshee, a ghost wolf, and a variety of other non-magical creatures. We also meet two teenagers, Baird and Effie, living in a castle in the middle of the Scottish moors. Their parents have gone away on travel leaving them home with the warning not to let anyone into the castle. The teens let the children into the castle only upon seeing Elsbeth soaking wet and unconscious, having taken a swim with the selkie seal and almost drowning.

Here too I had to pause, wondering at the plausibility. However, the teens’ connection to Elsbeth finally begins to shed light on the mystery of her parents and lineage and it was easy to get swept up in the revelations. While the mystery is only partly revealed as part of the growing plot, the remaining shadows serve only to further intrigue and hope for more in the next installment.

The Call of the Castle Ghosties is an enjoyable read for children and adults alike. Written with the same reverent respect for nature and preserving it through scientific and magical means, this third installment in the series delivers an attention-riveting continuation of Elsbeth Thistle’s story. The Palmers bring the lands and ancient legends of Scotland to life, giving us a healthy dose of magic and mayhem all of which Elsbeth navigates and overcomes with maturity beyond her years. Still a leader by nature, Elsbeth learns more about herself and her abilities as a witch while looking out for the safety of her friends. Calling upon her magical gifts, friends, and by receiving otherworldly assistance, Elsbeth manages to win the day and preserve the family legacy and deliver everyone home safely, thereby closing out the third installment in the series.

Despite some moments where I was drawn out of the story by an interrupted suspension of disbelief I enjoyed this book. The inclusion of the artwork added a beautiful visual element. I look forward to the next installment!

I give Elsbeth and the Call of the Castle Ghosties a full five star rating.

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