Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Review: Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko

Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko
Ghost Girl
By Ally Malinenko
Katherine Tegen Books
Format: eARC
Source: Sparkpoint Studio

To Sum It Up: In the small town of Knobb’s Ferry, not far from the famous Sleepy Hollow, Zee Puckett stands out, and not in a good way. All Zee wants is to tell her spooky stories and hang out with her best friend Elijah, but her shock of white hair makes her an easy target for teasing at school. It also doesn’t help that it’s just Zee and her older sister, Abby, having lost their mother when Zee was born and their father now gone in search of work elsewhere. As long as Zee has her stories and her friendship with Elijah, though, she can weather anything until a storm rolls through Knobb’s Ferry and seems to bring something very sinister with it. Zee soon learns that while she may love spinning scary tales, it’s a completely different thing to actually find herself living in one.

Review: With Halloween not that far away, now is the perfect time to start getting into the ghostly groove with a chilling read like Ghost Girl that also manages to warm your heart. Zee Puckett is a sixth grader in the small town of Knobb’s Ferry, which the book mentions is near the fabled Sleepy Hollow. Ally Malinenko does a great job of establishing a setting where everybody knows everybody and their business, the type of place where a girl like Zee, with her white hair, unusual name (Zee is short for Zera), and love for telling scary stories, attracts unwanted attention from other kids. It’s a good thing Zee has her best friend Elijah, the only person in Knobb’s Ferry who really gets her. Their friendship is one of the book’s standout parts.

The paranormal aspect starts creeping in when a fierce storm rocks the town and little by little begins affecting its residents. Zee and Elijah quickly realize that something is very amiss and that they are central to whatever is going on. While the identity of the villain isn’t all that hard to figure out, there’s still a good amount of mystery surrounding what exactly is happening in Knobb’s Ferry. Malinenko builds just the right amount of suspense, punctuated by some wonderfully frightening moments.

Ghost Girl also focuses on some very human elements, such as standing up for yourself and not assuming that you know everything that another person may be going through based solely on outward appearances. Perhaps the most important point that the book addresses is that no one can take something away from you that is not given freely. Although these may sound like heavier themes for a middle grade read, Malinenko incorporates them in a manner that’s subtle yet powerful.

With an ominous atmosphere, deep character development, and ample thrills, Ghost Girl more than lives up to the expectations of its eerie title. I definitely hope to see more adventures featuring Zee and her friends.

All in All: A perfect read for the fast approaching spooky season that will appeal to readers of all ages!

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