Daphne Walters is finding life in Los Angeles tougher than she imagined. Her college roommate is giving her the cold shoulder, her boyfriend dumped her and she’s being hit on by skeevy L.A. douche-bags. One night she finds some peace and quiet in the swimming pool of the seemingly abandoned Rycroft Manor only to meet the house’s inhabitants, a motley collection of (mostly) friendly ghosts. She cuts a deal – let her move in and she’ll help the non-corporeal tenants with real world errands. But maybe these ghosts are worse than the metaphorical ones she’s running from.
That’s the set up to GLAAD Award-nominated writer Sina Grace’s new book, Ghosted in LA, which has just released its first collected edition, pulling together the first four issues of the on-going series. This first volume is mainly set-up with Grace seeding plot elements to unfold as the series progresses and there are already a lot of questions waiting to be answered.
After four issues we’ve barely scratched the surface of who the ghosts in West LA are, why they are bound to the house and what they all want. Each seems to have a unique gift; Bernard can leave the house while the others can’t; house-owner Agi can possess the living; shy Ricky can affect technology; while grumpy Maurice… well that would be a spoiler.
A lot of the tension in the book comes from Daphne inadvertently putting the ghosts’ secret at risk. They remain hidden from the outside world but Daphne’s comings and goings bring attention to the house.
By trading in her real world roommate for the spiritual ones Daphne encounters many of the same problems – she and Maurice don’t get along, Agi can be tough as the house-mother etc. Much like a real share-house Daphne has to balance the personalities while also dealing with her school and social lives.
This is The Queer Review, so obviously there is LGBTQ+ content here. As we get more backstory to each character we discover that Bernard is gay, but lived a closeted life in the ’40s, leading to another major character’s coming out.
There’s a lot of potential here in the world Sina Grace and artist Siobhan Keenan (Grace himself illustrates the flashback sequences) have created and I have loads of lingering questions I can’t wait to see explored. What is going on with Agi and her hold over the house? What is the backstory of the child-ghost Pam or nice guy Ricky? Is there something sinister really going on in the background? And most importantly… why does her seemingly judgemental Christian college roommate appear to be watching gay supernatural romances on her laptop all the time?
After the recent issues surrounding his Marvel comics work, Grace has said this is the first book he’s written that feels “100% me”, and it is clear he’s having fun with these characters and this world – his version of Melrose Place.
The first volume of Ghosted in LA is a fun beginning and lays the groundwork for a lot of story to come (the series is planned for 12 issues). I’ll definitely keep reading.
By Chad Armstrong