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Review: Anya’s Ghost

Sometimes, when you pick up a book, you aren’t sure what to expect.  Is it supposed to be funny, serious, or spooky?  Sure, it’s been well reviewed, but what’s it all about and is it really that good? When I finally picked up Anya’s ghost I was surprised to find a mixture of all three and yes, it really is that good.

Anya’s Ghost
Brosgol, Vera
Ages 12+
First Second, 2011, 978-1-59643-552-0
$15.99, 221 pp.

Anya, a Russian immigrant teen, is struggling with a number of things. She feels awkward with her own self-image. She’s embarrassed by her Russian past. And she struggles with fitting in at school.  That all changes when she falls to the bottom of a well. Anya’s trapped for a two days with a few bits of food and a ghost for company.  Fortunately, she is rescued. But unbeknownst to her, the ghost’s finger bone lands up in her bag, which enables Emily, the ghost, to come out of the well too, altering Anya’s  life forever.

As Emily uses her ghostly abilities to help Anya do well in school, fit in, and even offer some pep talks, she grows stronger. As she grows stronger, Anya realizes that Emily hasn’t been entirely truthful to her.  And that’s where the scary ghost story begins!

This is a wonderful coming-of-age story wrapped in a supernatural premise.

The story is mostly well-paced, but the creepy part only comes at the very end and I really liked the creepy part. I wanted more of the creepy part. While I wasn’t entirely surprised that Emily wasn’t being truthful with Anya, I was actually caught off guard with creepy Emily ghost. Perhaps I needed a few more hints – more creepiness – throughout the story.  For a while, I was thinking Emily was like Caspar the ghost: Cute, cuddly, and friendly.

Drawn in black, white, and grey ink, the clear, crisp images are very appealing and lend humor as well as depth to the story. Readers will truly feel for Anya as she strives to fit in. It seems like Brosgol is using her own experiences as part of the story, but with a clever little spin.

Readers will be engaged in this tale… and most likely everyone will see a little bit of themselves somewhere in this title.

See a preview here.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.


  1. As I read the book, I noticed how Brosgol’s art was subtly changing as the story progressed; I started feeling the creepiness somewhat earlier in the book. It’s an outstanding story with wonderful art, and I also highly recommend it.

  2. Esther Keller says:

    It definitely could have gone over my head. But the creepiness factor only set in, for me, around the time Emily started to change her appearance. Which is around where the story started to shift. I just loved the creepy factor so much, and I’m not a fan of horror, that I wanted more of it.

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