top of page

First Armada Ghost Book: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: First Armada Ghost Book

Editor: Christine Bernard

Publisher: Armada

Format: Print

Genre: Children’s Book

Publication Date: 1967

Star Rating: 5/5

Have you ever had that moment when you stumble upon a vintage children’s book that you’d entirely forgotten reading as a child?

This was exactly what happened to me with First Armada Ghost Book.

It was only when I saw the short story ‘A Pair of Hands’ by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch in the index that I remembered reading it before.

This anthology of eleven short stories is intended for a child audience.

However, it contains several well-established stories likely to be appreciated by and familiar to an adult audience.

It also contains three stories by American writer Sorche Nic Leodhas.

‘School for the Unspeakable’ by Manly Wade Wellman, ‘The Story of the Inexperienced Ghost’ by HG Wells and ‘The Red Room’ (also by HG Wells) are likely to be familiar to readers already.

The appeal of ‘School for the Unspeakable’ for a younger audience comes via its narrator, fifteen-year-old Bart Setwick.

Bart is sent to boarding school by his father and duly arrives by train. He is met by a lad who appears to be a fellow pupil and is taken to the school. There he is assailed by Satan worshipping youngsters and is ‘rescued’ by a school master.

Only late on is this story revealed to be a ghost story, which is quite unusual in a genre where the supernatural focus is typically made clear upfront.

The idea of a ghost not being very good at haunting is amusing and is likely to appeal to young readers, especially as the idea of an adult being bad at things in real life and then again failing when dead may surprise some children. This is why ‘The Inexperienced Ghost’ was included, I think.

Other stories in the collection feature children either as ghosts or as narrators.

In ‘A Pair of Hands’ the ghost is that of a child who is presented as having been kind to other children (living ones) in the house when they were badly treated by others. This is a welcome variation on the common theme that ghosts must be dangerous to the living.

‘The House of the Nightmare’ by Edward Lucas White sees a child ghost aid a traveller who has had a road accident.

In ‘Spooks of the Valley’ by Louis C Jones, young lads Joe and Pete interrupt building a model plane to aid a ghost who was murdered nearby and who will only find peace when they are reburied nearer to other people.

Joe and Pete are rather splendidly matter of fact about digging up George’s body and then carrying his bones by bike to a better burial site.

The opening story ‘Sandy MacNeil and His Dog’ has a canine ghost, and this is a lovely idea for children given their emotional closeness to animals.

The stories in First Armada Ghost Book were varied and well written. I loved the more unusual choices, which were supported by other more traditional stories. At every point, I felt that the choices had been firmly made with young people in mind.

I enjoyed re-reading this book as an adult very much.

Thank you for reading my review.

Click on this link to buy this book from Amazon via affiliate marketing, for which I receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting John C Adams Reviews blog in this way.

John C Adams Reviews First Armada Ghost Book

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you might like to subscribe to my blog.

Or you might like to take a look at the Children's category of my blog.

Please consider donating a small amount to John C Adams Reviews if you have enjoyed the reviews and articles you have seen today,

PayPal ButtonPayPal Button
bottom of page