Monday 20 November 2023

Ghost Book by Remy Lai Allen & Unwin. PB RRP $19.99 ISBN 9781761065477

Reviewed by Kerry Gittins

It’s Hungry Ghost Month and thanks to her new ghostly (and actually her only) friend William Xiao, July Chen discovers there’s an opening in her school to the Gates of the Underworld and dangerous ghosts are escaping. July’s yin-yang eyes have enabled her to see ghosts from when she was little, which is why she is able to see William who is a wandering soul, an 'almost ghost' caught between the living and the dead.  But July can also see all the other ghosts breaking loose from the Underworld, and these ones are determined to find souls to eat and to wreak havoc and mayhem in the human realm. This includes Oxhead and Horseface, the King of the Underworld’s ghostly assistants. Every time the assistants come to collect someone whose name is on the Death Register, William’s name also appears, but vanishes again as soon as it is seen. William enlists July’s help to figure out why this is happening to him, and together they embark on a perilous journey deep into the Underworld. What they discover there is a never-ending supply of dumplings, surprises, unexpected revelations, and the unavoidable impact on both of their lives of what it means when there is a Nobody missing from the Birth Register.  
Inspired by Southeast Asian tradition and beliefs surrounding the seventh lunar month commonly known as Hungry Ghost month, this deliciously creepy graphic novel is a must for readers who love books with a supernatural element. Sprinkled with humour, heart, and levity, the writing is clever and crisp, and effortlessly weaves the themes of friendship, sacrifice, and kindness into the storyline. The sometimes dark, spooky illustrations are balanced by those that create lightness and emotional connection to memories and family. Fans of tales like Spirited Away from Studio Ghibli will be spellbound and enthralled by this latest graphic novel from Remy Lai.

Teaching themes could include friendship, family, ghosts, the supernatural, beliefs and traditions, mythology, food, fantasy and resilience. 


Highly recommended for ages 8+


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