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.