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Ghost Talkers

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,939 ratings  ·  820 reviews
Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.

Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop m
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 16th 2016 by Tor Books
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Mary Robinette Kowal Both? It's a standalone and we've also talked about potential additional books, if the response to this one is good. …moreBoth? It's a standalone and we've also talked about potential additional books, if the response to this one is good. (less)
Mary Robinette Kowal Honestly, this is one of the few stories for me that originated in a dream. I remember only a 1920s couple, and she was a medium and there were ghosts…moreHonestly, this is one of the few stories for me that originated in a dream. I remember only a 1920s couple, and she was a medium and there were ghosts and a murder mystery. So I wrote a short story, "Ginger Stuyvesant and the Case of the Haunted Nursery" and the war was part of her backstory.

Basically, what I was thinking was... if Spiritualism worked as advertised, how would it have been exploited by the military? (less)

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Brandon Sanderson
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
(Note: For an explanation of my Goodreads Policy, please see here.)

This engaging, standalone novel is part historical fiction, part supernatural thriller. It’s mostly a spy story told through the eyes of a spiritualist in an alternate-history World War I setting where ghosts are real. Ginger is part of the “Spirit Corps,” a group of women who takes reports from the ghosts of dead soldiers, who check in once they have died on the front lines.

It’s exactly the sort of premise that I love. A “real w
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First, full disclosure. I'm not really impartial when it comes to Mary's work. Not only am I a bit of a fan of hers, but she's also one of my favorite people.

That said, while I admire so much of what Mary does, she doesn't write in the genres that I read regularly. She does brilliant short story work (Won a Hugo and everything) and tends to write historical fantasy set outside the time periods I tend to cleave to. (Specifically, if it happened after 1750 I don't tend to give much of a shit.)

4ish stars.

This is a solid book. If not mind-blowing or epic, it's written well, it's paced well, and the mystery is well-crafted. On the basis of those characteristics alone, it would be a good book. What sets it apart is a great main character and a unique premise.

It's a historical fantasy / murder mystery / paranormal ghost story / romance and it works to some degree in just about every one of those areas. It's a tough balance but MRK takes it on with aplomb. It has the classiness of a WWI lo
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Ghost meets World War I in this really cool new paranormal alternate history novel by Mary Robinette Kowal. The book stars Ginger Stuyvesant, an American engaged to a British intelligence officer during a period of intense fighting in Europe. Our protagonist herself is a medium stationed in the French port city of Le Havre working for the Spirit Corps, a classified spiritualist project developed by Britain to gain an adv
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Nov 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, netgalley
This review was originally published on my website, Koenix. I received this book as an ARC for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Video review:

An American heiress named Ginger is living in London during World War I. She’s engaged to a British intelligence officer named Ben. And she’s a medium for the Spirit Corps based in Le Havre.

Soldiers are conditioned to report in to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die. The mediums then pass on any in
Sherwood Smith
I ended up glued to the pages of this alternate Earth tale set during World War I, when the ghosts of British soldiers walked.

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Hartshorne, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force, and Ben knows about them, though he is not told details of how the Spirit Corps gets the dead soldiers to report in directly after their deaths, lest he be cap
Beth Cato
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received this book through NetGalley. It will be released on August 16th, 2016.

This was one of my most-anticipated books this year, and it lived up to my expectations. Ghost Talkers is historical fiction and fantasy at its finest, weaving the use of mediums and ghosts into World War I's brutal trench warfare. Ginger is a strong, savvy heroine, a woman who refused to be confined by social standards of her time. She plays a pivotal role in the war effort by living through the last moments of cou
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, net-galley
This book swept me up in it, and didn't let go until it was over. It's rare for me to read something without putting it down at this point in my life, but the combination of short word count and breakneck pacing kept my eyes glued to the pages. Ginger is a wonderful protagonist, who is smart, and kind, and has the fiery temper you might expect from a woman called "Ginger," but she's definitely more than that stereotype as well. Her interactions with Helen, the other medium in her circle, who's a ...more
(6/11/17) A gorgeous, bittersweet reimagining of The Great War, full of bravery and heartbreak. Danger comes from all sides, both legitimate opposition and wasteful stupidity. Against prejudice and treason, under the weight of her own grief and at risk of her life, Ginger unravels the intrigue and betrayal that brought her fiancé home as a ghost.

As a fan of old war movies, it was impossible to read GHOST TALKERS and not imagine the khaki and green of uniforms, the dirt and danger and blood of t
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
What if mediums were real, and the British Army employed them to gather intelligence from dead soldiers? A simple but fascinating premise, and a keep-you-guessing murder mystery with strong characters.
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In terms of the writing and plot, this is probably a 4 star read, but in terms of pure enjoyment, it’s a full house!
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
How does a historical fantasy book with a fascinatingly interesting premise fail to deliver a satisfying reading experience? When it fails to make me actually care.

Case: It's not you, it's me.

- 2.5 stars -

Ghost talkers starts off in a very intriguing way. The story is set in London in World War I, where our main character Ginger works as medium for the Spirit Corps, a spiritualist force that gathers information from the ghosts of soldiers that have died in the war. When Ginger discovers the pres
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Historical Fiction
*Rating* 4

*MY Thoughts*

Ghost Talkers, by author Mary Robinette Kowal, is a Historical Fiction novel with Paranormal aspects about a group known as Spirit Corps. The story takes place during The Great War (World War I) where British soldiers have been conditioned to report back what they've seen before they end up dead. The Spirit Corps is made up of seven individuals. 2 mediums who can see the dead and are at risk for losing themselves completely, 4 un
Ginger Stuyvesant faces many obstacles to her participation in the WWI Allied war effort, including her gender, her American heritage, and the top-secret nature of her contribution. As a member of the Spirit Corps, a cadre of spirit mediums, Ginger channels the spirits of fallen soldiers to share in their last moments to unearth information about the German’s plans. Although this work is a crucial component of the British war effort, it goes largely unrecognized and takes a terrible toll on the ...more
Look at that cover! I admit it was the artwork that stopped me in my tracks when I first saw this book. Then came the blurb, and what a magnificent premise that was! An alternative history with fantasy elements? British fighting the Germans in WWI with the aid of mediums and spiritual intelligence? After reading the description I knew I had to put Ghost Talkers on my immediate tbr. To be honest, I haven't been so excited to start a book in a while. If you like the genre, enjoy strong, likeable h ...more
Phoebe Prince
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

Ginger is a medium working in the top-secret Spirit Corps during WWI. Ghost Talkers is a blend of historical fiction, paranormal, and alternate history. The spirit corps has used magic--which is real but takes a paranormal bend--to bind soldiers' ID tags so that they report in after death and act as Ally spies. This means the Spirit Corps has allowed the Allies to gain an important advantage in WWI.

I've not read Kowal before, but she blends historical fiction
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was not bad. It wasn't great either but it had an interesting premise and a likeable, capable heroine. It felt a bit disjointed in places and sometimes the dialogue felt off but it also had a bittersweet quality that helped to smooth out some of the rough edges. Overall, it was a decent story. ...more
Jenny Baker
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thanks for buddy reading this with me Carl!

I first heard about Ghost Talkers from Booklist Online in their feature article The Reading List: Best Adult Genre Fiction. It made their short list in the fantasy genre category. I’d never heard of Mary Robinette Kowal until this article. The synopsis sounded intriguing, so, I jumped onto Goodreads to look at some of the reviews. I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only did Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss both read this book, but they bo
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Review from Tenacious Reader:

Ghost Talkers is an alternate history set during WWI. The British has a group of mediums, called the Spirit Corps, that is used for intelligence gathering. Their job is basically to interview the recently deceased soldiers before they move on to whatever awaits them beyond this world. The purpose of these interviews is to get critical information that would normally be lost forever , intelligence and information that a soldier
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
★★★★★ (5 out of 5)


Ghost Talkers takes place in an alternate version of World War I in which the British are utilizing mediums to communicate with the dead in order to learn military intelligence. The protagonist is Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress serving as one of these "ghost talkers" in London with her fiancé, a British military intelligence officer. The members of this Spirit Corps are being targeted by the Germans and they may even have a traitor hidden amongst them. After a ca
Jan 10, 2016 marked it as to-read
I heard Mary read from Ghost Talkers at KGB Fantastic Fiction and it was mesmerizing. I cannot wait to read this book.
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars.
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
With Ghost Talkers, Mary Robinette Kowal delivers on a premise so brilliant I suspect we are living in the alternate history where it is true because of course: in World War I the British employ a secret Spirit Corps, to laypeople a team of women to raise soldiers' spirits but in reality a team of mediums who fucking GATHER INTELLIGENCE FROM FALLEN SOLDIERS. That's right, they're women who talk to ghosts. Ghost talkers, if you will.

But Kowal doesn't stop there: besides all the cool military prot
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks

Ghost Talkers is a WWI-era novel that follows Ginger Stuyvesant, a medium (yes, that kind of medium) from America, living in London during the war. Ginger is part of a mostly-secret group of magical seers, the Spirit Corps, who communicate with recently deceased soldiers, reliving their final moments and helping to assist them into the afterlife, while using the information they gather from these deceased soldiers as a form of intel for the army.
Margaret Sankey
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
In 1916, while Houdini and Conan Doyle campaign against spiritualism, it is cover for the fact that the British military has weaponized it, requiring the recently deceased to report in to a mostly-female Spirit Corps to impart immediate intelligence about the circumstances of their deaths. The Germans, meanwhile, experiment with ways to block it--blinding soldiers, spiking deaths to burn out the mediums, and attempting to locate the main processing location for information. Kowal takes a slightl ...more
Julie (Manga Maniac Cafe)
4.75 - 5 stars

This was freaking fantastic. WWI with ghostly assistance given to the British forces courtesy of the Spirit Corp. Ginger is brave and self-reliant in the face of all the death she has to deal with as a medium for the army. All of the women in this story are strong, and they all do their best to advance the war effort, given the terrible circumstances that surround them. I haven't read anything quite like this before, and I've already added Kowal's previous works to my TBR pile. Hig
Udy Kumra
Jun 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 7-stars, 2021-fiction
6/28/21: 7 stars. Best Mary Robinette Kowal book ever. Loved it so much. Maybe full RTC when I’m less tired.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
This book, as I squeed on Twitter, shattered my expectations -- and my heart.

Set during World War I, the novel follows the British Army's Spirit Corps, a group of mediums who take the reports of soldiers killed on the front. They have an edge, as the campaigns of Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle -- plants for the British government -- have made the world think spiritualism was bunk.

But with the guidance of a West Indian woman, Helen, soldiers are "programmed" to want to report in before th
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This shouldn't have been a book for me. I've got a bit of Downton Abbey fatigue. As a pretty firm nonbeliever in ghosts, paranormal stories don't usually make it past a suspension of disbelief problem. But I got wrapped up in Ghost Talkers right away, read it quickly, and enjoyed every page.

It's about Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress doing volunteer duty during WWI, but not as the usual nurse. No, Ginger is a medium, and has become an important part of the Spirit Corps, a secret group oper
Great read!

Set in the First World War, I really enjoyed this! Action packed! The ghost talkers are mediums who talk to dead soldiers to find out enemy troop actions in an attempt to foil them.
Very clever premise!
Ginger Stuyvesant is an American heiress and medium, with an English mother. She has joined the Spirit Corps, an elite spiritualist force, as a volunteer. Her fiancé Captain Ben Hartford is also involved as an intelligence officer, fully aware of the Corps mission. He is looking for a tr
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Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of the Lady Astronaut series and historical fantasy novels: The Glamourist Histories series and Ghost Talkers . She’s the President of SFWA, a member of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses, and has received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, four Hugo awards, the RT Reviews award for Best Fantasy Novel, the Nebula, and Locus awards. Stories have a ...more

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“And you are right.” He had a wry tone to his voice. “Which I am sure you are going to lord over me.”
“I don’t know.” Ginger opened her eyes and tried to match him. “Can one ‘lady it over’ someone?”
“My lady, I believe you do that all the time.”
“Ah … but I’m not a lady, am I? Simply an American.”
“Well, you can definitely American it over someone.”
“I would say your passion, but that’s part of being headstrong. Or your conviction, but that’s related to being obstinate. Fearless, but that is a combination of both. Perhaps, then, I shall cite your love of Brussels sprouts.” 1 likes
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