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Spirit Hunters

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“Oh has crafted a truly chilling middle grade horror novel that will grab readers’ imaginations.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Even more impressive than the shiver factor is the way the author skillfully uses the compelling premise to present a strong, consistent message of not rejecting what you don’t understand.” Booklist (starred review)

“This mystery thriller infused with diverse characters and intriguing themes will appeal to horror fans and to reluctant readers who enjoy a good scare.” —School Library Journal

We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh returns with Spirit Hunters, a high-stakes middle grade mystery series about Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother.

A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn!

Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely.

The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?

288 pages, Hardcover

First published July 25, 2017

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About the author

Ellen Oh

19 books936 followers
*Hi friends! I'm not often on Goodreads so if you want to keep up with me, the best place to do so is on instagram! I'm at elloecho!

Ellen Oh is a former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history. She loves K-pop, K-dramas, and eating good food that someone else cooks for her. She is fueled by Diet Coke and Krispy Kreme donuts are her kryptonite. Ellen is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in children’s literature. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband, three children, two dogs, and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.

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5 stars
1,048 (32%)
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3 stars
652 (20%)
2 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 700 reviews
Profile Image for Adriyanna Zimmermann.
111 reviews109 followers
April 23, 2017
Not sure why there's all these "too childish" 2/3 star reviews. This is middle grade which means the target audience is 9-12 (in most cases). It is meant for children. When reviewing MG you need to be thinking from the perspective of the target audience, not yourself (assuming reviewer =/= target audience).

I know Oh's first series was YA so some of her YA readers may be picking up this new book (being a fan of the author), but please remember this is middle-grade, not YA or adult. If the writing is "too childish" you probably shouldn't be reading it.

Also, I know a 3 star rating/review is usually good but it brings down the average rating which may deter MG readers. Goodreads almost always gets more reviews than book retailer sites.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,029 reviews2,812 followers
February 6, 2021
4.0 Stars
This was such an enjoyable middle grade horror story! Haunted house stories don't often work for me, but this one did because it was more focused around a possession, than the actual house. I also thought the exorcism was quite unique because it pulled from non-Catholic sources like Buddhism. 

For a book aimed at a younger audience, I found it to be pleasantly creepy with a good balance between suspense and humour. The audiobook narrator did a great job of voicing the possessed person. 

Finally, I loved the diversity in this novel, which is so often lacking in adult horror.  This story featured a half Korean girl who's heritage was beautifully woven in the narrative.  I would recommend this one to anyone with kids or other adult readers who are open to reading middle horror.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,845 reviews5,002 followers
July 9, 2018
All the elements here were pretty familiar, especially the Michael/Billy plot, and the most original bit with the long-dead Grady wasn't elaborated enough. That aside, the writing and characters were solid and it was a very enjoyable read. I think this would be excellent for a kid or even adult who hadn't already read a lot in this genre, and I'm certainly open to try something else by this author.
Profile Image for Dayla.
2,032 reviews200 followers
July 23, 2017
I can't get over the fact that this is a middle grade book. This was so creepy!! I loved the Korean spiritual references and how the haunting was described.

I do wish the parents were more aware of the haunting so that the protagonist could have a moment of "I told you so", but other than that, this was a fun and creepy read!

Happy reading!
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
May 8, 2021
Solid middle grade fiction. Not the book's fault, this genre is just not for me.

The “she felt angry” kind of style started to annoy me pretty quickly. The new or original thing offered here is the Asian lead characters and general diversity, which I definitely appreciated in a ghost novel! 20/10 excellent for middle grade readers.
Profile Image for Alex  Baugh.
1,950 reviews108 followers
July 21, 2017
It’s early summer and Harper Raine, 12, isn’t very happy about the family’s move to Washington, DC. Older sister Kelly thinks the move is all Harper’s fault because of starting a fire at school and then having a terrible accident at Briarly, a psychiatric hospital, that left her with both arms broken and two broken ribs. Harper, however, has absolutely no memory of either event

The new house is unbearably hot because of broken air conditioning, except for 4 year-old MIchael’s room, which is unnaturally cold. And Michael claims to have made a new friend in his room named Billy that no one else can see. Slowly, Harper begins to see her brother change from a sweet, loving little boy to a mean, violent child who only wants to stay in his room with Billy.

When Harper mets Dayo, a Jamaican girl who lives a few blocks away, they become instant friends. Days knows some of the odd history of Harper’s new house, and tells her it has always been considered to be haunted.

As something evil and malicious takes over Michael more and more, Harper and Dayo research on the house’s history and discover some really frightening information. And it helps when Harper reconnects with her old friend Rose, a ghost who lives in a family mirror, and who can help figure things out. At the same time, Harper begins to remember more details about the fire and her accident at Briarly. And she is beginning to see glimpses of Billy, the boy possessing her brother. But what can two 12 year-old girls and a sweet ghost do in the face of such evil?

Luckily, Harper’s estranged grandmother lives nearby and shows up suddenly. Grandma Lee is a Korean mudang or shaman, and her belief and work in the spiritual world is what has alienated Mrs. Raine from her mother. She immediately accesses the situation with the house and especially with Michael, who by now is almost totally possessed by Billy. And she informs Harper that she too is a mudang, and it is up to her to exorcise the house and her brother. But does Harper’s understand her newly uncovered ability as a spirit hunter enough to go up against such a strong malevolence.

Spirit Hunters is a fast read simply because you can’t put it down, the need to know what happens next is just too great. Even though the story covers only 10 days, Oh manages to build the tension slowly, beginning with a playful insinuation of creepiness and working up to almost full scale horror. Some of the tropes she used are a bit cliché, like oozing, bleeding walls, or floating ghosts, but these by no means diminish the delicious pleasure of the story for fans of scary tales.

Oh's writing is friendly and pretty straight forward, but I liked that in-between the third person narrative are Harper’s first person journal entries. These allow the reader to directly know and understand what she is feeling and thinking, and which also slowly reveal the blocked events surrounding the fire at school and the accident at the psychiatric hospital as they resurface in Harper's memory.

And I liked the way Oh introduced Harper’s Korean identity on her mother’s side of the family (her father is clearly not Korean). In Spirit Hunters, Harper begins to explore more fully this part of who she is and, I hope, it will expand subsequent books in this new series.

Spirit Hunters takes place in Washington DC and you couldn’t ask for a better ghost story location (except maybe New Orleans). There’s just something about those old homes, the sidewalks inlaid with bricks, and the heat and dense humidity of summer that can be cut with a knife that all just lends itself to a well-done scary story.

If you want a good hair-raising scare this summer, do pick up a copy of Spirit Hunters and enjoy.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was an EARC received from Edelweiss Plus
Profile Image for jenny✨.
563 reviews783 followers
May 31, 2022
3.5 stars!

though this story wasn't wholly innovative for me, there's still something so satisfying about reading familiar world-building about ghosts and hauntings. i also loved harper's friendship with dayo, and the ownvoices korean representation and inclusion of korean culture - particularly around the mudang or shaman, and harper's family dynamics.
Profile Image for Michael Sorbello.
Author 1 book234 followers
December 29, 2021
Harper Raine's life was changed when she lost her memories after causing an accident that tore her family apart, causing them to move to DC. When her new best friend Dayo tells her rumors that her new house has a terrible history of hauntings and evil deeds, she fears that the source of her memory loss may have been caused by a malevolent spirit. When her precious little brother Michael begins to exhibit signs of plotting something terrible, Harper's blocked memories begin to resurface. The accident she caused and the change in Michael both seem to have connections to supernatural beings. Harper has no choice but to explore the spirit world to uncover her own untapped powers to stop another tragedy from tearing her family apart.

I've been reading a lot of middle grade horror lately and I'm surprised by how creative, emotional and deep their stories and characters are. A lot of them are also genuinely creepy. It's honestly the most fun I've had with horror in quite a while.

I liked how the story channels Korean mythology, spiritualism and shamanism into the plot. It gave a fresh feel to the familiar haunted house story. I especially enjoyed the dynamics of all the characters. Harper has a very bold and expressive personality. She has a lot of flaws and insecurities, but she's a fighter, a lover and confronts terrifying situations like a champ. Harper's best friends are lovable support characters, her family adds a lot of wholesome and dramatic familial dynamics and her grandma is a badass.

The 2 villains were a great pair. One felt like a mad scientist straight out of a Lovecraft story and the other felt like something from a classic possession horror story like The Exorcist.

Overall a great blend of horror, emotional family drama and wholesome moments.
Profile Image for Jenna (Falling Letters).
646 reviews58 followers
June 27, 2018
Review originally published 26 June 2018 at Falling Letters.

Spirit Hunters, the first book in an upcoming series, is a classic haunted house tale with a Korean-American perspective. (This book is #ownvoices for Korean-American representation.) Harper’s family has just moved from an air conditioned apartment in New York to a stuffy old house in Washington D.C. Harper knows the move has something to do with a fire at school and a serious accident that put her in hospital, but she has no memories of the incident. Harper is wary of her new home, especially when she learns of its’ supposedly haunted past from her new friend Dayo. When Harper’s usually sweet little brother Michael starts acting sullen and mean, Harper and Dayo begin investigating the history of the house in an attempt to uncover the root of Michael’s behaviour. Harper unblocks her memories halfway through the book, remembering everything that happened around her accident as well as the critical fact that she can see and communicate with ghosts – a skill that Harper will need to use to her advantage if she wants to save Michael from a nasty ghost’s possession.

What sets Spirit Hunters apart from other middle grade books with ghosts is that Spirit Hunters feels properly frightening. The sharp change in Michael’s personality demonstrates the threat that Billy, the older boy who haunts the house, can be. As Harper and Dayo uncover more of Billy’s history, they learn just how awful he was when he was alive. Billy is a real threat to Harper and her family, and the creepy happenings he raises around the house invoke the same kind of chills I experience when reading adult haunted house stories.

In addition to being a ghost story, Spirit Hunters deals with themes of cultural identity. Harper is Korean-American and has a Korean grandmother who lives near Washington, but whom she’s rarely met because her mother and grandmother are estranged. Harper eventually reconnects with her grandmother and learns that she is a mudang, a shaman who can hunt spirits, and that Harper has the same ability to do so. Family conflict arises because Harper’s mother does not have that ability and denies the existence of ghosts. Racism is also addressed, not as a primary theme in the novel but something that Harper, as a visible minority, has to deal with in her everyday life.

The Bottom Line: Recommend for readers who love truly frightening books. Extension activities could include filming a book trailer or sharing ghost stories from other cultures/comparing them to Korean beliefs about ghosts.
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews109k followers
July 26, 2017
Harper Raine has a bad feeling about her family’s new home the moment she steps inside. Then she hears the rumors about the house. And to top things off, her little brother begins acting strangely. Now Harper is spending seventh grade seeking answers to the spirits she senses and trying to figure out a way to save her brother before it’s too late. This is a fun debut to a new middle grade series!

Backlist bump: The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://bookriot.com/listen/shows/allt...
Profile Image for Renee Godding.
586 reviews558 followers
December 12, 2021
Only pick this one up if you are very brave (and at least 10 or older)

As a young horror fan, I would have loved to read this with my mum at that age, getting creeped out together. This book offers some genuinely scary bits, coupled with a lot of humour, heartfelt moments, friendship and some wonderful messages about diversity and acceptance.
Profile Image for Mehsi.
11.6k reviews360 followers
July 31, 2017
A creepy, haunting middle-grade book, the first in a series, and I definitely want more books.

This one lays the perfect foundation for a whole lot of creepy, spooky stories. I am always on the lookout for new horror/ghost stories, especially in the middle-grade/childrens range. Often those books avoid the scariness or weaken it as the story goes on. But not this one.

Oh no, I was definitely creeped out many times, and even NOPE NOPE NOPEd quite a few times (dang that spider/ghost thing on the walls and ceiling or that stuff in the attic). Yep, that is fuel for nightmares, especially with how well the author writes the scenes.

Not only do we have the sense of dread, the spooky house, and a brother (almost) possessed, but we also have a bit of memory loss and what those memories contain. I am really thankful that the author wrote them so well, didn’t hurry with the revelation, I would have been disappointed otherwise considering how big of a deal it is and how much it matters to the story.

Harper is a wonderful character, strong, brave, and I was worried about her, and also felt sorry for what happened to her, to her lost memories.

The house was positively spooky, and I was amazed that no one else seemed to notice. I know, I know, they don’t have any powers, but I would think anyone would feel the dread seeping from the walls. Not the least with how the little brother is acting totally out of character.

There were a few moments that were quite obvious (the ghost in the house, but also who the great spirit hunter was), but eh, it is still a childrens book. It wouldn’t be the first time that things like that are obvious.

Extra love go to Dayo, she was the best, and I hope we will see more of her (and hopefully she can help Harper out) in the next books.

Yuna, the mom, I am still not sure what to think of her. On the one hand I can understand why she did what she did, but on the other hand… I just can’t and I was pissy at her for a few parts in the book.

I loved it when those characters appeared in various parts of the story. Haha, yeah, I won’t tell you who, or what, as that would spoil something, and I don’t want that to happen.

The last chapters were a rollercoaster and I was on the edge of whatever place I was sitting. It was spooky, creepy, and I was afraid for Harper. Would she be able to do it? What would happen afterwards?

Highly recommended if you are looking for a spooky, creepy, twisty book with great characters.

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com/
Profile Image for Jonathan Pongratz.
Author 4 books179 followers
May 30, 2020
Original Review at Jaunts & Haunts


I gave this novel four and a half stars!

This is my first read by this author, and boy was I blown away!

This book is about a young girl named Harper Raine. Her family has recently moved to DC into this big house, but something is off. Her little brother Michael starts talking to an imaginary friend and acting strangely.

What's going on? Is her house really haunted like people say, or is this all in her head?
I loved this book!

First off, the characters were great. Harper is a bright young girl with a bold personality. I liked her strange backstory and how she was trying to regain this piece of her that felt missing since a relatively recent accident. She really cares about her family and it shows. I also loved the bits of heritage we got sprinkled throughout. It really made this a well-rounded experience.

Harper's family were well done too. Her sister, little brother, and parents were believable and entertaining in their quirks.

The plot was riveting. I mean, it's a haunted house. What more could you want? I came here for the thrills and chills, and I wasn't disappointed. The plot twists were fun, unanticipated, and kept those pages a blazing. The book didn't really scare me per se, but it was exciting and I can see how this book might creep younger kids out. Definitely not a bedtime kinda story.

If I had to pick at anything, I would say that Harper coming to terms with the fact that her house is haunted took a little bit longer than I hoped. She had plenty of experiences to validate this fact to where I felt acceptance could've happened just a smidge earlier, but I'm not upset about it.

In the long haul, this book was a stellar read, and I can't wait to get my hands on book two!
Profile Image for stefiereads.
308 reviews119 followers
September 21, 2020
Dear, oh dear. what a book. what an adventure. what a ghost story.
This book!!

Kids can be creepy sometimes. But kids and a ghost story. I don't know what would frighten me more. This book has managed to creeped me out a lot. My sleep was not so good (Hence, I warn you, better to not read it at night if you want a good night sleep).

What I really love about this book:
- The atmosphere. It so eerie you can feel it almost immediately.
- It is one of those books that will keep you awake at night, but then you'd decided that it was a bad idea to read it before bed. But you could not stop but to continue reading, because it is TOO GOOD.
- Page turner.
- Has amazing characters. Even the ghosts are interesting and freaking wicked, make the story more fun and rich.
- I love the friendships here so much!

What I do not love:

Now, if you don't know what to read in October or near Halloween, I highly recommend to pick this book. It is everything you need for an amazing middle grade spooky read.
If you have been hesitated to pick this one for a while, DO IT. It is one of the best middle grade spooky books I've read in a lonngggg time.

If you love imaginary friends, creepy kids, wicked spirits, wild ghost story, with heartwarming friendships, this book is for you.
Profile Image for Darinda.
8,062 reviews144 followers
March 4, 2018
Harper and her family have moved to Washington, D.C., and Harper hates their new place. Something is just not right about it. Harper learns her home is supposedly haunted, and starts to have a feeling of déjà vu. As Harper's feeling of unease increase, so does the erratic behavior of her younger brother. Harper is missing some memories, and slowly, some start to return to her as she focuses on helping her brother.

A middle grade ghost story. Fun, spooky, and entertaining. Great for fans of ghosts stories... I would have loved this book when I was a kid. Also, a diverse books read, as the main characters are Korean-American.
Profile Image for Abby Johnson.
3,373 reviews309 followers
August 28, 2017
I'm a little bit of a horror wimp, but this book was too scary for me to read at night when my husband wasn't home..!

Harper and her family have just moved into a historic house in Washington DC and Harper hates it. But she's pretty crabby all the time these days. Ever since the accident with the fire at her school that caused her to lose some memories of that time in her life, Harper hasn't felt quite right. There's something else not quite right with this house.

Her little brother Michael seems to be talking to someone that none of the rest of them can see. And his room gets mysteriously cold, even when the rest of the house is sweltering because the AC is on the fritz. And then Michael starts acting really strange. He used to be such a sweet kid, but now he's acting horrible. Harper's mom blames the stress of the move, but Harper knows that's not it.

Can Harper figure out what's going on in time to save her little brother? And will she ever remember what happened to her in the fire that some people think SHE started?

This book reminded me a lot of the scary books I loved to read as a tween. Although there are tons of stories about haunted houses, details about Harper's Korean-American family and portrayals of racist microaggressions make this book stand out.

The story stands alone but sets itself up for potential sequels, which I hope we will see! Don't miss this one for your scary story fans.
Profile Image for Emily.
1,265 reviews331 followers
February 24, 2020
"She felt like a piece of her was missing---a piece she couldn't explain."

Spirit Hunters is a middle-grade horror book, and it was an entertaining read! This was a good mysterious ghost story, and I enjoyed reading it. I loved the little dog Pumpkin!

This book relied a little too heavily on dream sequences, and it felt like overkill after a while. I was still interested in the story, though.

If you liked the City of Ghosts books by VE Schwab, this is definitely one you should check out. This was a fun story.
Profile Image for Meisha (ALittleReader).
219 reviews54 followers
November 23, 2020
(3.5) This is an objective low 4 star. As far as personal rating, it’s a higher 3 star. The characters were kind of two dimensional. If that isn’t something you like, maybe skip this one. Cause I feel like the characters definitely take the back burner in this one. However, where it lacked in character development, it made up for in plot. This would have scared the crap out of me as a kid! It’s short and very fast paced so it’s really fast and easy to get through. And as someone who really enjoys ghosts and haunted house stories, this was an enjoyable and solid story.
Profile Image for Devann.
2,433 reviews131 followers
October 27, 2019
A solid little middle grade horror story, but not one that I think translates well to adult readers. I'm sure it would be very enjoyable to the target audience and especially to Korean-American kids who want to see protagonists that are like them, but it was definitely a bit simplistic for me. Oh well, reading middle grade books as an adult is a bit hit-or-miss and I accept that I am not the target audience here. I don't think I will be reading the second one, but it was still a cute story.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,586 reviews1,988 followers
June 1, 2021
I was really impressed with how scary and smart this is for a middle grade book. I listened to it with the kids and I kept wondering if it was going to be too scary for them (they rolled their eyes at me). It's got a great structure and is surprisingly readable for adults.

I didn't love the audio, the reader is clearly for kids, but sometimes they read so slowly that it felt weird.
Profile Image for Amber Kuehler.
437 reviews72 followers
September 13, 2017
This book is so CREEPY!!! I could NOT put it down and had to know what happens. You will devour this book!
January 18, 2023
Wow wow wow!!!! I absolutely loved this book. It was dark, creepy, & just utterly brilliant. This was such a creepy read! I would’ve been fine reading it at MG age, but that’s up to each parent to decide for their own child as I always say. It can get pretty dark, & I was just so shocked, impressed, & blown away by this book. I loved the ghost folklore type feel, the history/backstory of this house & ghost(s), & I loved the cultural aspects including Harper’s Korean grandmother who believes in so many “impossible” things, & her wisdom from her own paranormal parts of life. Then the family aspect as a whole is so amazing. Moving somewhere new, the older sister mad & blaming Harper, Harper feeling like she’s forgetting something, her beloved brother starting to act like a different person as if possessed..Harper’s mom who is the complete opposite in belief to the grandma & the distance that caused. It also damaged Harper in many ways, because she wasn’t believed or accepted for who she was. She was made to feel a certain way about certain things, to the point where she felt she had to change, & even forget things. Many great messages woven into this dark, haunting story. GREAT characters. Loved Harper, & ADORED the friend she makes in Dayo. Great dynamic. I also of course love her grandma & another very special character we meet later in the book. This kept me on the edge of my seat, & the suspense & danger of everything faced was so nail-bitingly good. I loved everything right down to the “bells”. HIGHLY recommend. STUNNING cover by Matt Rockefeller too.💜
Profile Image for Lisa.
610 reviews
February 1, 2018
Disappointing and soulless due to lack of imagination and editorial guidance - expect Disney to option for a series based on the diverse subject matter (ghost-hunting Korean kiddies) because this "book" reads like a teleplay. No flow between choppy action sentences and dialogue exposition. No character descriptions, background info (hey why is your lead named Harper? Inspired by Harper Lee, or musical harp?) A tradition-shying mom (Yuna) names her kids Kelly, Harper and Michael while alienating her tradition-loving mom (Lee) and their disagreement/reunion is skated over in dialogue. Every horror film cliche tossed into the climax (goo rivers, shrieking banshees) without any fun or winking commentary. Constant terrible physical violence done to kids by ghosts with no follow-up (body smashes into ceilings to floors without damage yet copious blood after a toy firetruck cuts arms and breaks noses). Unique angle of Korean traditions are glossed over - yes show us what is to be a Korean shaman vs Peruvian shaman - don't give us a Mary Sue lead who is all-powerful whenever the plot requires it (you call all the ghosts to the cemetery yard, Harper, just cuz it's you!). With this writer's background and connections - enhanced by slick marketing and niche shelving - I expected better not below-par mediocre. Please write from your heart & soul and it will always show on the page - and your story will sing.
Profile Image for Alex (The Bookubus).
360 reviews387 followers
September 17, 2019
3.5 stars

Twelve-year-old Harper and her family move into an old house...it turns out to be haunted and only Harper can save the day.

I enjoyed the characters and the supernatural elements, and I really liked the inclusion of different cultures. Unfortunately I felt like the story got a bit convoluted at times and maybe the author was trying to get too many ideas into the story rather than streamlining it and focusing on a few elements rather than several. It was still a charming and enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Cat.
675 reviews79 followers
July 25, 2017
this was a fun read.
I like the scary aspect, although it was a bit predictable and too scary. but the writing was a bit off for me, reading as too childish or too adult at times. still need to gather my thoughts better on this one.

full review here: https://catshelf.wordpress.com/2017/0...
Displaying 1 - 30 of 700 reviews

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