Before I get to the review, I wanted to say that I was planning on doing a double-review of this and Pumpkinheads, which I also finished this month. But since I’ve already done a sort of review of Pumpkinheads, I won’t right here. I’ll just say that it was everything I hoped it would be and more.
Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.
Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.
Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.
I actually didn’t expect what eventually happened in this book. The story appeared to be heading in a certain direction, but it slowly became more sinister than I expected!
I want to say how much I love the illustrations in this graphic novel. They’re very sleek and polished looking. I also like the monochromatic palette – all the greys and purples and blacks really added a level of spooky to the story that was really nice. It also helped the ghost, Emily, stand out more.
This story is actually a lot spookier than I thought it would be. It’s definitely one of those slow-build creepy stories that have a sinister tint to them, but you don’t realize why it’s sinister until later. I actually prefer these kinds of stories. The suspense is frightening enough – you don’t need blood and guts and monsters in your face to scare you. The brain does enough to psychologically scare a person.
I was worried at first that I wasn’t really liking the main character, Anya. I think it was probably due to the fact that she’s a moody teen. Anya has a little more on her plate than most in that she’s a Russian immigrant who is desperately trying to hide the fact that she’s an immigrant. She just wants to fit in. Which is why she avoids and even makes fun of a fellow immigrant and student, Dima, because he has not shed his foreigness, like she has. But she slowly grows on me as her character progresses through the story.
This book was working on many levels, which I appreciated. At first it appears to be a general teen-angst story, about a young girl who has a crush on a boy who will probably never notice her – she has few friends and feels awkward (especially about her body) and doesn’t fit in.
But it’s also an immigrant story, about a girl trying to pass as American in order to be better liked and fit in at her school. Because of this Anya is not nice to Dima, the other foreign student, and she often rejects her mother’s Russian cultural aspects (food, traditions, etc.).
And lastly, it’s also a ghost story. Anya falls into a hole and discovers some bones that belong to a girl that’s been dead 80 or so years. She ends up bringing the ghost of the girl home with her, accidentally, and befriends her when the ghost, Emily, proves to be helpful to her in many ways, including helping her cheat at school and catch the attention of the boy she has a crush on.
Ultimately, I think this is a really well-crafted story and graphic novel. It’s chilling in the right amount, the characters are well formed, and it has a really nice message overall. I would definitely recommend it!
4/5 ghosts! 👻👻👻👻
What are your thoughts? Do you have this one on your TBR? Any fans of Brosgol here? Let’s chat in the comments!