Review of Ghost Book

Ghost BookGhost Book
by Remy Lai; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School    Holt    320 pp.
8/23    9781250810410    $22.99
Paper ed.  9781250810434    $14.99

Twelve-year-old July Chen has lived a lonely life. Her classmates and teacher constantly forget her (“Are you a new student?”), and her father is too tired and preoccupied to pay much attention to her. Ghosts, however, can see her, and unlike most people she is able to see and communicate with them. July finds an unexpected friend in William Xiao, a wandering soul of a boy who has already survived several near-death experiences. On the night of the Hungry Ghost Festival, the two are chased by a death god and several zombie-like ghosts; they travel to the Underworld to find a way to protect themselves permanently. This graphic novel adventure skillfully highlights the importance of friendship, family love, and remembering lost loved ones. Lai weaves many aspects of Chinese folk religion and Taoism into the plot while also creating colorful, memorable characters in both the living and spectral worlds (monstrous and friendly spirits who look like animals; blob-like aliens). She also infuses plenty of humor into a narrative that deals with mortality and the supernatural. An entertaining, engaging read with echoes of Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee is a young adult librarian for the New York Public Library.

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