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Ghost Moon

Ghost Moon

by John Wilson

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In the second installment of the Desert Legends Trilogy, Ghost Moon follows young James Doolen's story after he discovers the terrible truth about his father in Written in Blood. The year is 1878, and young Jim is not yet ready to return to Canada. Instead he heads up to New Mexico in hopes of finding work and building a life. On the way he meets Bill Bonney (later to


In the second installment of the Desert Legends Trilogy, Ghost Moon follows young James Doolen's story after he discovers the terrible truth about his father in Written in Blood. The year is 1878, and young Jim is not yet ready to return to Canada. Instead he heads up to New Mexico in hopes of finding work and building a life. On the way he meets Bill Bonney (later to be known as Billy the Kid), who takes him to a ranch south of the town of Lincoln, where they both find work as cowboys. Little does Jim know that he is about to get caught up in a vicious battle for the lucrative army contracts with nearby Fort Stanton. As the violence explodes around him, Jim becomes a helpless witness to cold-blooded murder and watches as Bill swears revenge and leads a gang of killers into the hills. However hard he tries, Jim can't escape the violence and is finally drawn into its bloody conclusion on the streets of Lincoln.

Editorial Reviews

Tri State YA Book Review Committee
"A perfect book for boys looking to experience life during the Wild West."
Children's Literature - Shirley Nelson
In the first book of the "The Desert Legends Trilogy," Jim Doolen had travelled from his home in British Columbia, Canada, to the American West to learn what had happened to his father. Having succeeded, James decides to remain awhile in the New Mexico Territory. He soon meets young Bill Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. Bill befriends James and offers to help him find a job on Mr. Tunstall's ranch. Jim's hopes for a quiet sojourn on the ranch are shattered when Tunstall is brutally killed by the Dolan gang. Against his will, Jim is soon caught up in the war among ranchers. Crooked sheriffs, cattle rustlers, and street gunfights are not what he was looking for. Although encouraged to join Bill and his Regulators, Jim chooses to avoid the conflicts but the conflicts seem to find him. Wilson presents a graphic depiction of the Wild West in the late 19th century, but he also shows Jim wrestling with universal truths. How can his friend Bill also be the coldblooded killer he shows himself to be? What makes a hero? As he finds a place in this new world, Jim learns much about himself and others as he begins a new life. Reviewer: Shirley Nelson
VOYA - Judith A. Hayn
James Doolen is sixteen and fatherless in the second volume of the Desert Legends Trilogy. He discovered the truth about his father on a journey to Mexico in the first book, and in 1878 decides not to go home to his mother's boardinghouse in Canada but instead heads to New Mexico. There he meets Bill Bonney (Billy the Kid), who promises to find him work as a ranch hand, but both become ensnared in a brutal battle for profitable contracts with the army at Fort Stanton. Jim watches in horror as his new boss is viciously slain as a result. Bill swears revenge when violence erupts; he organizes a vigilante band, heads for the hills, and continues to ruthlessly track and kill the opposition. Jim is lame after an attack by horse thieves and eventually aligns himself with Lieutenant Fowler as a scout for the buffalo soldiers at the fort. Jim's coming-of-age tale is filled with history, including an eyewitness account about what really happened at the Alamo, which is again referenced in the climax. Wilson, an award-winning Canadian author, captures the dichotomy building in Jim as he seeks his place in a world rife with violence and treachery. The title refers to the Apache legend for the ghost moon that tries to shine in the daytime and cannot compete with the sun, a symbol of knowing where one fits in the world and accepting it. Reviewer: Judith A. Hayn
Kirkus Reviews
A young wanderer lands in the middle of New Mexico's Lincoln County War in this middle volume of the oater Desert Legends Trilogy. Relatively fresh from meeting Cochise in the previous episode (Written In Blood, 2010), 16-year-old James Doolen falls in with Bill Bonney (not yet known as "Billy the Kid")--a charming but decidedly mercurial teenager who hares off on a vicious killing spree after their new boss, John Tunstall, is murdered by a rival merchant's gang of hired gunmen. Along with having his narrator witness several documented gunfights, Wilson fills in the cast with historical figures and the general background with barely disguised infodumps. In his simply phrased, present-tense account, James goes from a brash "I want to learn about the world and have adventures" to a disgust with the escalating violence that, after several narrow squeaks, leads him on to a new job (and the next volume) scouting for a troop of buffalo soldiers. The tale's women are, with a single late exception, silent bystanders, but action fans will thrill to the gunplay and other dangers. James' conflicting feelings about his archetypically dangerous friend--and also a telling conversation with an old Mexican survivor of the Alamo about the difference between legend and reality--introduce thought provoking elements. A tale of the Old West with a sturdy historical base and nary a dull moment. (Historical fiction. 11-14)

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
733 KB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

He introduced himself as Bill Bonney, but said that everyone just calls him Kid because he's only eighteen. That makes him two years older than me, but he's smooth-cheeked and lightly built and could pass for younger. I think back to the other Kid I've met—the man I killed last year. But Bill is different. I've immediately taken a liking to him.

Meet the Author

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, John Wilson grew up on the Isle of Skye and outside Glasgow without the slightest idea that he would ever write books. After a degree in Geology from St. Andrews University, he worked in Zimbabwe and Alberta before taking up writing full-time and moving out to Lantzville on Vancouver Island in 1991. John is addicted to history and firmly believes that the past must have been just as exciting, confusing and complex to those who lived through it as our world is to us. Every one of his seventeen novels and six non-fiction books for kids, teens and adults deals with the past. His tales involve intelligent dinosaurs, angry socialist coal miners, confused boys caught up in the First and Second World Wars, and the terrors faced by lost Arctic explorers. John spends significant portions of his year travelling across the country telling stories from his books and their historical background and getting young readers (particularly but not exclusively boys) energized and wanting to read and find out more about the past.

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