Set in the spooky town Woodsville, Nearly Departed is a horror story dealing with a group of teens in high school and the ghosts they confront. Jay, Kelly, Hashim, Bethan and Emily are from different levels in the high school’s hierarchy of popularity and are put together in a group to do an assignment. But what was meant to be homework turns out to be a search for a ghost when Emily Night, a timid girl hated by others claims to have seen one.
And out of these five, only four would live to look back upon what happened and shudder at the chilling truth they learnt.
After a series of events that convinces them of the presence of a ghost around them, a late night hunt for the ghost in Emily’s house leads her to reveal that her mother has been missing for a while. Tools they had used to detect ghosts also showed the ghost in Emily’s house. This leads to a hunt for the ghost, the most probable reason being that Emily’s mother is dead and is trying to contact her daughter to tell her the truth about her sudden disappearance.
What is mysterious is the fact that Emily doesn’t seem to remember a thing about the day her mother disappeared. This causes a lot of suspicion from the other kids and puts her under their scrutiny. Had Emily killed her own mother, and if not, why had she hidden something like that for so long?
The five teens are completely different from one another, but they learn to put aside their differences and work together to unravel the ghostly mysteries surrounding Emily. While Emily and Hashim have ghostly stalkers, Kelly has the same – only, her stalker is human, and he is looking to kill. Emily’s mother’s ghost isn’t the only ghost they encounter, and the most unlikely friendships are formed.
This book can cause some sleepless nights and the fear that a ghost might be lurking right under your bed. In the end, the teens do manage to learn about what happened to Emily’s mother but they also discover a horrifying truth – Emily was not who they thought she was.
Reviewed by Shivani Singh
Published by Harper Collins Children's Books