August 2023

Ghost Book

By Remy Lai
Review by
Remy Lai juxtaposes serious topics with charming humor in Ghost Book, a lushly illustrated folkloric contemporary fantasy that will inspire readers to learn more about the real Hungry Ghost Festival.
Share this Article:

When Hungry Ghost Month arrives, the veil to the underworld lifts to allow bug-eyed, starving ghosts into the world of the living, where they feast on food left out by thoughtful mortals . . . and hunt for the delicious souls of the newly deceased. July Chen’s dad insists these ghosts aren’t real, so she ignores them—even though she alone can see them.

Other than her dad, no one that July meets ever seems to remember her, so she slips through life unnoticed—until she runs into the wandering soul of the wandering soul of William, a still-­living boy. William has experienced countless near-death experiences since birth, and the latest freak accident has landed him in a coma. July promises to help William return to his body, but soon starving spirits descend upon them and William’s tether to the real world begins to fray, forcing July to look at the truth of her own life: why people forget her, why she possesses special yin-yang eyes that allow her to see ghosts and how far she is willing to go to rescue her new friend.

Author-illustrator Remy Lai, known for her award-­winning graphic novels Pie in the Sky and Pawcasso, brings her trademark colorful style to a darker yet equally charming palette in her new folkloric contemporary fantasy, Ghost Book. Not a single panel is wasted, and readers who pay close attention to the art will be deeply rewarded by neatly placed clues that foreshadow the story’s final twists.

Lai explores grief and other hard topics with a careful hand, avoiding a descent into overwhelming sadness. Serious topics—the loss of a parent, the fear of dying and the pain of betrayal—are juxtaposed neatly with the presence of an adorable ghost named Floof and jokes about how passionately ghosts love dumplings. Prevailing above all is the power of friendship, and July’s and William’s attempts to save each other’s lives will thrill readers.

Lai limits her human cast to a handful of characters, but the myriad spirits she pulls from Chinese mythology will inspire readers to learn more about the real Hungry Ghost Festival. Kids who like to mimic the art styles of graphic novels will be equally inspired by both the hungry ghosts, drawn in detail with gaunt faces and hideous boils, and the simpler forms of Floof and the friendlier background ghosts. For kids who eat up graphic novels like Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen and Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier, Ghost Book will make a perfect addition to their shelves.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

Ghost Book

Ghost Book

By Remy Lai
ISBN 9781250810410

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our newsletter to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres every Tuesday.