Fifty years ago, Robert and Rebecca Zuffel drowned in a boating accident on Kickingbird Lake. Since then, their spirits and that of their dog Thatch have lingered on in their family house and the surrounding community of Juniper. After their home is turned into a vacation rental the ghosts take it upon themselves to haunt their human visitors, particularly the younger members of the families. Every book introduces a new family, and by the end of the story, the twins have haunted, hindered and sometimes helped the children who come to stay at the old Zuffel house. It's a unique and winning formula: had the stories been told from the point of view of the human kids, these would be fairly generic ghost-stories, but making the ghosts themselves the protagonists is a neat twist on the genre (and its an amusing conceit that in a tourist resort, they themselves are one of the attractions!)
The two previous installments The Mystery at Kickingbird Lake (Ghost Twins) and One Wish Pond (Ghost Twins) were interesting little mysteries in which the ghosts trail about after various guests and interact (without the guests' knowledge) with their activities. Now for the first time, the twins manage to communicate with a child via a computer. Noah French is staying with his parents, who are both professional skiers and eager for their son to return to the slopes after breaking his leg last year during a race. Noah is not so keen, and spends most of his time playing a virtual skiing game on his computer.
It is during one of these games that Thatch actually manages to *enter* the computer and the game itself, leading the twins to discover that they can communicate with Noah via the monitor, and in doing so, encourage him to take up his skis once more and enter the race on Walrus Mountain.
It's an intriguing premise (one that reminds me of Susan Cooper's The Boggart, another book in which old spirits meet modern technology), but is handled a tad awkwardly, particularly the sequences in which Robbie and Thatch enter the game itself and begin manipulating components of the programming. There is no satisfying explanation of how this could have taken place and the descriptions of what take place within the game are confusing (some of the obstacles that the virtual skier has to avoid are rather random, including a tea-party of cats). How do the ghosts interact with a two-dimensional world? Are they still ghosts or do they become a bunch of pixels? How'd they even get in there in the first place? It just grates on the imagination.
This unfortunately means that the poignancy of the ghosts finally managing to communicate with someone in the living world is glossed over, and Noah regaining his confidence and entering the race follows its predictable course (he seems remarkably uninterested in the idea of discussion with the dead).
"Ghost Twins" are an interesting series of books, but this particular installment isn't quite up to the previous standards. However, Robbie and Beka are sweet kids, who do surprisingly little quarrelling despite being siblings and the only two humans in their world. They possess very different temperaments that set them apart: Robbie is sensitive and interested in the land of the living; Beka is more extroverted and yet enjoys her privacy. Rounding out their little family is Thatch, who is more in touch with the powers that come with being a ghost, and managing to surprise the twins with what they are capable of on more than one occasion. Despite being dead, the three of them are realistic, enjoyable and funny...this just isn't the best book to showcase those qualities.