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November 16 , 2010

Water Ghosts


A troubled teen on a unique summer adventure sail for at-risk youths, believes the Chinese junk to be haunted and sailing to its doom. Fifteen-year-old James McCafferty is forced to take part in a summer adventure sail for at-risk youths. He finds himself on board a rickety old junk with three adults and six other resentful teens from various parts of the country - all of whom are struggling with behavior problems of various sorts. To some kids this "sentence" might sound like the best summer ever - six weeks of sailing around the equatorial Pacific Ocean. But for James it's a nightmare before it even begins. James is troubled by the voices inside his head and the visions he sees - especially the vision of the fire that killed his father - a fire James believes he started. He soon becomes aware of the ghosts in the hold, ghosts the Chinese call shui gui. James is certain the ship, ironically named Good Fortune, is sailing to its doom. The only good thing that could possibly come from this hell ship is getting to know Ming, a Chinese girl adopted by Americans. Ming and Truman, a boy who picks his nose and has a penchant for explosives. Three of the boys aboard taunt James and bully him because of the crazy things he blurts out. But when the adults begin to go missing off the ship, the others start to listen to him. First, Miss Marty, the ever-cheerful camp counselor, disappears. Next Mr. Miles, hard-ass first mate. Then the captain is found dead in his bunk. The seven teens are now alone on Good Fortune, adrift in the doldrums without an engine and no wind to fill the sails, the The ship's radio is broken, the cell phones are all dead, and they are far from shipping lanes and air traffic. The teens must work together to survive. Instead, they start falling apart. When their supply of fresh water dwindles, they're in danger of dying of thirst. As they weaken the water ghosts become more powerful. Below deck, James meets Yu who is a shui gui; a water ghost of a young Chinese eunuch who drowned at sea six hundred years ago. Yu is intent on trading places with James. He's waiting for Good Fortune to pass over the exact place where he drowned, on Hungry Ghost Night when the gates of hell are opened. When that happens his power to take over James' body will be complete; Yu will become James will replace Yu deep in his watery grave. He holds James captive in the belly of the ship and tells him the story of Yu's tragic life. Just when it seems Good Fortune might be rescued, a fleet of Ming Dynasty warships rises up from the bottom of the ocean and attacks them. The battle for their lives is on as the teens fight the shui gui. James knows the ghosts are cowed by fire - but fire is what killed his father. It's teen against teen, teen against nature, teen against himself - and teen against ghost in this fast-paced psychological adventure with strong paranormal and historical elements.
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