Not Quite a Ghost | Anne Ursu


Coming January 16th, 2024 from HarperCollins; 288 pages

About the Author: “Anne Ursu is the author of acclaimed novels The Troubled Girls of Dragomir Academy, The Lost Girl, Breadcrumbs, and The Real Boy, among others. Her work has been selected as a National Book Award nominee, a Kirkus Prize finalist, and as a best book of the year by Parents Magazine, Publishers Weekly,, and School Library Journal. She lives in Minneapolis with her family and an unruly herd of cats. Her next book, Not Quite a Ghost, will be out in 2024” (Bio from author’s website). 

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“You can’t blame the house. It had done its best.”

The transition from elementary to middle school means a lot of changes for Violet Hart. Her friend group is evolving, her teenage sister is suddenly full of angst, and their growing family means moving to a bigger house where Violet gets stuck with the creepy attic bedroom. Amidst the upheaval, Violet consoles herself with the notion that change is acceptable and that the wallpaper in her room isn’t moving on its own at night. But when she is struck by a mysterious illness and confined to her bed, Violet must face off against her own maladies and the ones lurking in the shadows.

Inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 novella The Yellow Wallpaper, Not Quite a Ghost is an incredibly unique take on the modern ghost story. Ursus’ deft prose blurs the line between the supernatural and reality. Much like Violet, the reader must discern the truth for themselves, making for an uneasy reading experience. Ursu also masterfully weaves in the The Yellow Wallpaper’s message of autonomy and self expression while sticking to the pacing and style of a middle grade novel. For the most part, the novel is a relatable coming of age story that accurately depicts the anxieties we all feel while going through a significant life change. While Violet’s experiences are acute at times, she also asks the questions we all ask ourselves at her age like “Do my friends even like me?” or “Will anything ever be the same?” These moments feel true to life, but there are also moments that are genuinely unsettling, especially with information provided in the author’s note that brings the story’s message into full fidelity. This book is a must read for middle grade readers looking for a Stephen King-esque thrill. 

Not Quite a Ghost releases on  January 16th 2024.

Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley and HarperCollins for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.

Kasey Taylor, Pine Reads Review Writer