I’d picked up some free, secular, young teen books that looked like spooky mysteries (which I always liked!). But I was horrified at the content of one, All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn.
It was about a supposed haunted place. And the last third of the book had the two key characters seeing and chatting happily with the spirits of several dead kids—and being harassed by a dead old lady. This communicating with the dead was portrayed as somewhat normal—and fun.
The grandma of the two key characters thought it was all a prank or something. Then she herself became able to see the dead kids. This conveyed (in my opinion) the idea that Grandma had been a bit uncool but now was enlightened.
Worse, when the kids wanted to help put the dead-kid spirits to rest, the question came up about contacting a priest (as maybe would be done for an exorcism). But the criticism was something like: priests don’t bother to get to know the person, and so it doesn’t go well.
This totally misrepresents reality. (Even if it’s fiction, it still gives us ideas.) In the first place, these are not the spirits of the dead; they’re demons. (Of course, that possibility was never mentioned.) And in the second place, we should not be encouraged to try to speak to or “get to know” any such manifestation. (Though that typically is the feel of the various ghost-hunting TV shows.)
In the end, the stars of the story (with Grandma’s help) do put the spirits of the dead kids—and of the old bag—to rest.
As with so many occult-related books/TV shows/movies these days, we are given the impressions that: (1) the dead come back; (2) that anybody can/should communicate with the dead; and (3) that we (even kids) can outsmart any supposed dark activity.
Trying to communicate with the dead (necromancy) is strictly forbidden in Scripture (ex: Deuteronomy 18:9-13).
All to say, it seems even more necessary than, say, back in the 1950s for parents to review popular books (I appreciate that my dear daughter-in-law reviews—and vetoes—certain books). And it wouldn’t hurt for parents to raise a ruckus with school staff about some of the books on their reading lists.