Curtis Jobling's Haunt: Dead Wrong asks whether great friendship can survive the great divide [Review]

Curtis Jobling's Haunt: Dead Wrong asks whether great friendship can survive the great divide [Review]

Photo: Simon & Schuster

 

HAUNT: DEAD WRONG
By Curtis Jobling
Published by Simon and Schuster
ISBN 978 1 4711 1579 0

Will and Dougie are having a few problems adjusting to a massive change in their friendship. Two ordinary lads have never had to face a situation like this. It would be quite easy just to give up and walk away and start afresh with new best friends, but both Will and Dougie still get on really well, and want to fix this mess.

The problem is easy in some ways - yet also awfully complicated. The bicycle Will had received for his 15th birthday was the best present anyone had ever given him. Obviously he'd hopped straight on it to ride to his best friend Dougie's to show it off, and he didn't see the car that hit him full-on.

The next thing Will remembered was waking up on a hospital trolley. Well, he felt awake, but he was looking down at his body on the trolley. It didn't take he long to realise that he was dead. Will Underwood was now a ghost, and he had to get used to the fact.

In a situation like this, the first thing to do is to talk to your best friend, and Will's best friend is Dougie Hancock. It is useful that Dougie can see Will - he's the only person who can - and after the initial shock, the two friends decide to get on as usual. But can it work?

Curtis Jobling's Haunt: Dead Wrong is a ghostly comic caper that goes for laughs, not chills. Aimed at younger teen readers, Jobling never overplays the comic potential of this weird friendship, but the laughs do come thick and fast. This is a new world for the two boys to explore, and they take on all the possibilities.

Things to sort out pile up thick and fast for the two friends. Why is Dougie's father acting strangely and refusing to leave the house? How should they deal with the Major, a dead American airman from the second world war who haunts the local hospital? The Major is harmless enough, but that can't be said about the Lamplighter, a malevolent spirit that lurks at the train station.

And what happens when both Will and Dougie fall for the same girl? Their friendship might be strong enough to battle ghosts, but can it survive the very much alive Lucy Carpenter?

There's a lot going on in this novel, but Jobling keeps it all under control, just. If you are looking for a creepy, funny, quick read for summer, then Dead Wrong fits the bill perfectly.

John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Can a great friendship survive the great divide?

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