cover image Ghost Roast

Ghost Roast

Shawneé Gibbs and Shawnelle Gibbs, illus. by Emily Cannon. Versify, $26.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-358-14181-5

As penance for a poor decision, a 15-year-old New Orleanian must help her father run his ghost-hunting business in the Gibbs sisters’ and illustrator Cannon’s cheeky graphic novel debut. Chelsea Grant, desperate to stay relevant among the popular crowd, reluctantly agrees to attend a party at a local cemetery, during which she drinks and smokes marijuana—until the police arrive. Now grounded, Chelsea must assist her specter-chasing father in keeping his struggling paranormal business afloat, a punishment that dredges up painful middle school memories for a once-ostracized Chelsea. After securing a new client, Chelsea and her dad arrive at the property, a former sugarcane plantation. And while her father is excited to use his ghost roaster to expel the estate’s “irregular energy,” Chelsea—who, unbeknownst to him, can see and speak to ghosts—seeks an alternative solution to help the spectral inhabitants. In the vein of Octavia Butler’s Kindred and boasting the fun of Ghostbusters, the Gibbs sisters invoke New Orleans mysticism to shed light on the city’s history surrounding enslaved peoples. Cannon’s vibrant, beaming color palette keep spirits—and suspense—high amid the dark themes. Chelsea is portrayed as Black; background characters are rendered with varying skin tones. Ages 13–up. (Jan.)