Title: Ghost Girl
Author: Ally Malinenko
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Audience: Middle Grade
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: August 10, 2021
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Recommended for fans of: Small Spaces, City of Bones
Content Warnings: absent parents, bullying
Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks, Ally Malinenko’s middle-grade debut is an empowering and triumphant ghost story—with spooky twists sure to give readers a few good goosebumps!
Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one.
It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even . . . a ghost.
When she tells her classmates, only her best friend, Elijah, believes her. Worse, mean girl Nellie gives Zee a cruel nickname: Ghost Girl.
But whatever the storm washed up isn’t going away. Everyone’s most selfish wishes start coming true in creepy ways.
To fight for what’s right, Zee will have to embrace what makes her different and what makes her Ghost Girl. And all three of them—Zee, Elijah, and Nellie—will have to work together if they want to give their ghost story a happy ending.
This spooky middle grade book is perfect for the upcoming Halloween season!
I loved the strong characters. Zee is a headstrong, brave storyteller with a strong sense of justice who learns she can communicate with ghosts. I loved her relationship with her 21-year-old sister Abby who is raising her while their father is away for work. Zee’s best friend Elijah is smart and compassionate, but he has a tense relationship with his father because of his weight and interests. Nellie begins the book as a bully, but there is more to her than meets the eye.
I enjoyed Malinenko’s writing style, and I liked the way she included commentary on gender biases, body image issues, and identify for a middle grade audience.
While the spooky vibes started off strong, the paranormal aspects of the story overall fell flat to me. The writing could be a bit repetitive at times. The backstory and lore were underdeveloped, so there were a lot of pieces without clear connections to each other. While all the big things were resolved at the end, I was left with a lot of questions about things that happened throughout the book.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC.