Review: Ghost Girl by Tanya Hurley

The inside cover of Ghostgirl states: "Book design by Alison Impey"  Well, whether it was truly her idea or a group effort by ggher, Tanya, and Craig Phillips (interior silhouette artist), I'd like to applaud a spectacular job.  This book is more a piece of art than a mere stack of literature.  It appeals to all my little dark senses.

The cover design is a mix of Victorian etchings and modern colors.  The see-through coffin on the front mirrors the cute Goreyesque illustration on the front page.  Gaudy Victorian wallpaper-like designs inside the front and back cover make me think of walls in a haunted house.

The layout inside the book is also unique.  Each chapter starts with a gothic silhouette of a girl with a gloomy quote from such masterminds as Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allen Poe or song lyrics from bands like The Smiths and Depeche Mode.  I doubt if any of the teens who buy this book will know who those people are, but it meant something to me.  My point is that the book design and inside chapter layout made me plop down the hardcover price because of it's beauty.

The story itself is amusing.  A typical nobody girl, Charlotte, dies before she can make the popular boy realize she's in love with him.  He, of course, has an evil cheerleader girlfriend and never noticed Charlotte when she was alive.  What makes her think he'll fall for he after she's dead?  Only her wishful delusional imagination.

Charlotte soon realizes that even though she's dead, she still has to graduate.  She has a class full of dead peers who are counting on her to be a team player.  She's not used to being on a team and because of her selfish wishes to be with the living, she totally screws up everything.

My favorite character is Scarlet, the only goth in school who just happens to be the cheerleader's sister.  The exchanges between Charlotte and Scarlet are comical.  One of them wants to look dead and be invisible, and the other is dead and wants to be seen.  Can they trade places?  For that answer, you will have to read the book.

Though the story wasn't highly exciting, I did like it for several reasons:

  • The preppy cheerleader never gets her revenge and fails being popular.

  • The goth chick gets the guy.  Finally!  The guy actually prefers morbid brains to blond bimbo.

  • They have their fall ball in a haunted house complete with amusement park ride.  I was thinking... Disney's Haunted Mansion?

Things I didn't like:

  • The ending.  Was it too perfect?  Too tightly sewn up?  Not enough struggle?  I can't quite put my finger on it.

  • The goal of the dead kids is to graduate.  Yet, when they do, I am assuming that means going into the light.  But then later, Charlotte is around the living again.

  • Just as Charlotte is "graduating" she meets a new dead guy and tells him she'll explain everything to him later.  He's never seen again and since I'm assuming she moves on, I'm wondering how she'll do that?

I suggest you at least take a look at this book in person if you aren't inclined to buy.  Now you have a reason to go into the local bookstore.  Pictures online just can not do justice to this piece of artistic genius.  However, if you have decided to buy online, you can find this book at