Tatiana's Reviews > The Ghosts of Ashbury High

The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty
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Jun 24, 10

bookshelves: 2010, ya, aus-nz
Recommended for: fans of Jaclyn Moriarty
Read from June 20 to 24, 2010

I have a strange relationship with Jaclyn Moriarty. I like her books, but I think they are full of a special (maybe Australian?) weirdness. The Ghosts of Ashbury High is no exception.

This book is the 4th about Ashbury High (the other 3 are in chronological order: Feeling Sorry for Celia: A Novel, The Year Of Secret Assignments and The Murder Of Bindy Mackenzie), but it's not a series, each book can be read independently, even though the cast of characters is pretty much the same.

At the center of the story are two new scholarship Ashbury students - Riley and Amelia. They are mysterious - the have been together since they were 14, they are talented, they have dark past. Everyone in the school (especially Emily) is obsessed about them and wants to know what hides behind their distant facades.

As always, Jaclyn Moriarty offers a fresh approach to story telling. Her previous books were written in the form of letters, notes, memos. This time the majority of the book is written in the form of the writing assignments for Gothic Fiction class. Therefore from the very beginning you have to be cautious to take everything the students say with a grain of salt, because, after all, they all are writing gothic fiction stories. This part of the novel is often bizarre (I find ALL Moriarty's books seem bizarre when you start reading them) and quirky and weird, humorous in a way I sometimes don't get, but beneath all this strangeness are great, real, sometimes heartbreaking stories of passion, despair, loss, friendship, and love.

Moriarty's remarkable ability to write several distinct "voices" deserves special recognition.

In spite of the slow and weird start, I enjoyed this book immensely, especially the latter part. Jaclyn Moriarty remains one of my favorite YA writers.
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Reading Progress

06/20/2010 page 5
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06/21/2010 page 104
22.0% "Another unexpected Australian history lesson..."
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Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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message 1: by Kat Kennedy (new)

Kat Kennedy LOL, Australian weirdness? I don't know what you are talking about!


message 2: by Tatiana (last edited Jun 24, 2010 10:37AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tatiana LOL. I think I only know 2 Australian authors - Moriarty and Margo Lanagan. I like them both, but I find them both... well... strange (in a good way). I wonder if it applies to all of you Aussies:0)


message 3: by jo (last edited Jun 24, 2010 10:37AM) (new) - added it

jo mo I've been strangely attracted to this book as well. It might be a nice change reading this ... We'll see ...


Tatiana There is definitely an appeal to it, once you get going. But I would recommend trying Moriarty's debut novel - Feeling Sorry for Celia: A Novel - first.


message 5: by AH (new) - added it

AH More books for me to add to the list....This sounds good. I like Aussie writers.

Actually, now that I think of it, Catherine Jenks is an Aussie writer and she has some fun weirdness in her books - Evil Genius and the Reformed Vampire Support Group.


Tatiana I hope I don't sound too prejudiced, but I think Australian writers are a little quirky, just like Swedish are a bit freaky and German are depressing:)


message 7: by Hannah (last edited Jun 24, 2010 07:28PM) (new)

Hannah Tatiana wrote: "I hope I don't sound too prejudiced, but I think Australian writers are a little quirky, just like Swedish are a bit freaky and German are depressing:)"

LOL! I don't know about the quirkiness of Aussie writers (I've only read Kate Morton and John Harwood, and neither was quirky), but their film makers sure are! Case in point: Danny Deckchair. A great movie, but definitely "out there".


message 8: by Kat Kennedy (new)

Kat Kennedy Well, I suppose even my reviews can get a little quirky!


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Melina Marchetta is an Australian writer, right? She's the first one to pop into my head. She's fantastic. I don't know about quirky, though. But I like your theory!


message 10: by Kat Kennedy (new)

Kat Kennedy Garth Nix is Australian and Lucy Christophers (author of Stolen) has lived in Australia since early childhood. John Marsden, Karen Miller... Meh, I don't really know! Nobody has ever done a study on Australians and their propensity for the weirdness.


message 11: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Kat wrote: "Nobody has ever done a study..."

Maybe it has something to do with your isolation and distance from the rest of the world? One of my favorite Bill Bryson books is In a Sunburned Country
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
and throughout it he makes the claim that Aussies are one of the last bastions of individualists left in the world. Great book. Not too sure if an Aussie would agree with his preceptions of you, but I loved it - made me want enough $$ to take the next flight down there :)


message 12: by Kat Kennedy (new)

Kat Kennedy I actually HAVE read this book, and apart from his scathing view of North Queensland, I loved every page of it! I'd forgotten I'd read this. It was such a hilarious read and interesting to get an outsider's opinion on our country.


message 13: by Hannah (last edited Jun 24, 2010 08:36PM) (new)

Hannah Kat wrote: "I actually HAVE read this book, and apart from his scathing view of North Queensland, I loved every page of it! I'd forgotten I'd read this. It was such a hilarious read and interesting to get an..."

Yeah, he's a witty writer, and the only one I've ever read that can make me laugh out loud in public. A Walk in the Woods
A Walk in the Woods  Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
is my favorite Bryson book that I've read so far.


message 14: by AH (new) - added it

AH This sounds like a great idea for one of those book lists - Books by Aussie Writers.

I'll have to look at some of these books you all have mentioned.


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