The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty

I’m a huge fan of Jaclyn Moriarty’s The Year of Secret Assignments, so I was very excited to have snagged a copy of The Ghosts of Ashbury High at internship. I was surprised on how big the book was, but I was determined to read it anyways. Length usually does not faze me.

This is the story of Amelia and Riley, bad kids from bad Brookfield High who have transferred to Ashbury High for their final year. They’ve been in love since they were fourteen, they go out dancing every night, and sleep through school all day. And Ashbury can’t get enough of them.Everyone’s trying to get their attention; even teachers are dressing differently, trying to make their classes more interesting. Everyone wants to be cooler, tougher, funnier, hoping to be invited into their cool, self-contained world.

But they don’t know that all Amelia can think about is her past — an idyllic time before she ran away from home. Riley thinks he’s losing her to the past, maybe even to a place further back in time. He turns to the students of Ashbury for help, and things get much, much worse.

In the tradition of the gothic novel, this is a story about ghosts, secrets, madness, passion, locked doors, femmes fatales, and that terrifying moment in the final year of high school when you realise that the future’s come to get you.

I was definitely not used to Moriarty’s style of writing. It’s been a while since I read The Year of Secret Assignments, so I was not prepared for it. Around 200 pages in, I confess that I skipped to the end at around page 400 because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I could not stand that the story kept back-tracking. While it is fun and interesting to read the story in different perspectives, learning little things with each new story, the story dragged for me. I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again, and it started to get really bothersome. I was so close to quitting, but in the end, I felt that I would feel guilty if I didn’t. So I picked the book back up and kept reading.

Did it get better? I think so. I got used to the narrative (though I still skimmed the meeting minutes) and I was curious to see how the story would get to the ending. I found that I really did love reading about Lydia and Seb and even the new characters of Amelia and Riley. The ghosts of Ashbury did not interest me at all, however. The ghosts are a big part of the plot which is probably why I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would.

Honestly, if I had quit reading this book at 200 pages in, I would have given this book a rating of 2 stars. I’m glad that I did finish reading it though. I don’t feel guilty for abandoning a book, and it makes me feel better writing a review knowing how the book gets to the end. Still, I feel that The Ghosts of Ashbury High does not live up to The Year of Secret Assignments. It’s disappointing, but I have to remember that Secret Assignments was just that good.

Rating: StarStarStar


  1. Hrm I have to say that I’ve never heard of that book before, but I think that I might’ve heard something like that..before..? I don’t know. Too many books to keep track of! haha I totally love that you quoted the best line from Harry Potter in your footer! It’s so cute yet devilish, I love it.

    Yeah I’d have to say that if you wanted to give up on the book halfway in, it’s probably not all that great. I think you gave it a fair rating. I am pretty much over any books having to do with high school because I’m in college now & I can’t really relate to a kid in high school who is concerned about a guy who won’t call her back or the pants she just bought at the mall. ahaha well not all books are like that, but in particular, the A-List which is incredibly annoying to read if you have a higher thought process than centering yourself around materialistic things. I guess I kind of scoff at a lot of situations authors put their characters in that aren’t THAT bad & they make it seem so dramatic. Maybe that’s just me. bbahaha well this review was helpful!

  2. This book actually sounds really interesting to me. I don’t like it when books drag on and on with little details that don’t really matter that much, but the story line seems very interesting.

  3. The excerpt about it being a gothic novel and then your description makes it sound like Wuthering Heights or Rebecca.

    I have to agree with you though, I really hate novels that get too wrapped in the minutiae or the backtracking. I definitely appreciate some of that, but there is a fine line between just enough and too much.

  4. Hi Cialina, Nice review definitely giving the writer the benefit of the doubt. It seems a trend to begin and then back up hours or days or even years. Sometimes it works so well and others, the reader gets lost on the trip either backward or forward. I will read the book after reading your review. Thanks! :)

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