The Ghost Collector

It wouldn’t be October without a review of a ghost story! The premise of Allison Mills’s debut novel is unique: the women in Shelly’s family have the ability to interact with ghosts, and if those spirits are causing a disturbance, they can capture them in their hair, remove the haunts from the site, and help them on to the next place. Shelly and her grandmother have to keep their hair bound when they leave the house; otherwise they immediately attract ghosts. (And not just the human kind. Animals wind themselves into their tresses, as well!) The book offers great spine tingles, but it does go beyond cemeteries and angry ghosts, examining the impact of death on those left behind. Shelly uses her supernatural gift inappropriately as she grapples with a passing (handled powerfully by what ISN’T written about it – that’s all I can say without giving anything away). She assumes she’ll be able to contact the deceased, but her discovery that she cannot adds to the devastation of the loss. She lashes out in anger and makes selfish choices, but as the sad, messy journey of grief (oooh, don’t even get me started on that eight stages garbage) unfurls before her, she finds a strength in herself and in familial bonds that will see her through. Humor and relatable details of daily life are woven into this deeper layer and into the eerie elements of the book, and the characters are appealing. This is a thoughtful and entertaining ghost story to curl up with on a chilly autumn night! And you might think twice about whether it’s a draft in the room stirring the ends of your hair…

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