This Johan et Pirlouit adventure features the second appearance by the Smurfs. The tale was published in segments in Spirou magazine and compiled here for the book. Amazingly, the collected works flow exceptionally well – no doubt that Peyo had the whole script on paper well in advance and simply followed the blueprint.
In this book, Johan et Pirlouit go through a deserted kingdom and find a deserted a castle that is hiding the ghost of the former king. The ghost is anchored to earth until a witches’ spell is broken, so the duo try to help him right a wrong he did over a century ago in order for him to be freed. Then all heck breaks loose.
The Smurfs are only featured in a short sequence and have but a minor role to play so, while it’s essential reading for completists, it doesn’t offer anything of any true value; this book could be ignored altogether and it wouldn’t change anything in one’s understanding of the Smurfs.
While the art is quite good, as is always the case with Peyo, the story was nothing extraordinary. In fact, to me, it was fluff – more substantial than a Scooby-Doo mystery, but hardly noteworthy. And our two leads? They are still (respectively) as boring and annoying as ever; they are hardly compelling characters.
So I would simply advise giving this 10th book in the series a miss unless one is a fan of the duo and their adventures. As for me, I highly doubt that I will ever go back for seconds. I don’t even think that I will ever read another of their books – they’re well-made, but they simply don’t grab me.