Ghost Talkers treads familiar ground. In fact, the ground is so well-trodden by the boots of hundreds of novels, films, documentaries, and video games that it’s nothing but a once lush field of grass turned to mud and boot prints. You’d be forgiven for avoiding yet another narrative set to the backdrop of the Great War—but, like all good narratives, Ghost Talkers rises above the over-familiarity of its setting to offering something unique.
Meet the Spirit Corps—the titular “ghosts talkers”—a group of men and women who use their occult magic to communicate with the spirits of dead soldiers, giving the British forces a leg-up against their enemies during World War I. From Helen to Edna, Mr. Haden to Mrs. Richardson, each member of the Spirit Corps feels real and motivated. Relationships linger between them, not always tied to Ginger Stuyvesant, Ghost Talkers’ hero. You get the sense that much happens behind the scenes for these characters, which enriches the story, and makes the narrative punches hit harder. I was reminded most, oddly, of BBC’s Call the Midwife, a television series which features similar depths within the relationships between various characters. Just imagine that Jenny, Trixie, and the rest were gun-wielding, ghost-corralling psychic mediums fighting from just behind the front lines at Amiens, rather than life-saving and community-binding healthcare providers.