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Ghost Girl

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Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks, Ally Malinenko’s middle-grade debut is an empowering and triumphant ghost story—with spooky twists sure to give readers a few good goosebumps! Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one. It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks, Ally Malinenko’s middle-grade debut is an empowering and triumphant ghost story—with spooky twists sure to give readers a few good goosebumps! Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one. It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even . . . a ghost. When she tells her classmates, only her best friend, Elijah, believes her. Worse, mean girl Nellie gives Zee a cruel nickname: Ghost Girl. But whatever the storm washed up isn’t going away. Everyone’s most selfish wishes start coming true in creepy ways. To fight for what’s right, Zee will have to embrace what makes her different and what makes her Ghost Girl. And all three of them—Zee, Elijah, and Nellie—will have to work together if they want to give their ghost story a happy ending.


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Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks, Ally Malinenko’s middle-grade debut is an empowering and triumphant ghost story—with spooky twists sure to give readers a few good goosebumps! Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one. It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks, Ally Malinenko’s middle-grade debut is an empowering and triumphant ghost story—with spooky twists sure to give readers a few good goosebumps! Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one. It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even . . . a ghost. When she tells her classmates, only her best friend, Elijah, believes her. Worse, mean girl Nellie gives Zee a cruel nickname: Ghost Girl. But whatever the storm washed up isn’t going away. Everyone’s most selfish wishes start coming true in creepy ways. To fight for what’s right, Zee will have to embrace what makes her different and what makes her Ghost Girl. And all three of them—Zee, Elijah, and Nellie—will have to work together if they want to give their ghost story a happy ending.

30 review for Ghost Girl

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    I didn’t read this book, my niece did because I bought it for her birthday and she has great taste. I trust her opinion. Here’s what she said (she’s in the 5th grade, just turned 10) “Hey Sadie, Here's my blurb for Ghost Girl. Thanks for getting it for me! Ghost Girl mixes the power of friendship with scary details that will make your skin crawl. It is not exactly a bedtime story, as I learned the hard way, but the writing is so addicting that I read the whole book in less than one day!” I didn’t read this book, my niece did because I bought it for her birthday and she has great taste. I trust her opinion. Here’s what she said (she’s in the 5th grade, just turned 10) “Hey Sadie, Here's my blurb for Ghost Girl. Thanks for getting it for me! Ghost Girl mixes the power of friendship with scary details that will make your skin crawl. It is not exactly a bedtime story, as I learned the hard way, but the writing is so addicting that I read the whole book in less than one day!”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nev

    This book had some genuinely creepy moments in it, not just “creepy for a Middle Grade story.” Zee starts seeing ghosts around the same time that a dark force starts impacting the townspeople. Along with the help of her best friend Elijah and her nemesis Nellie she has to learn how to defeat the bad guy and save her town. I really liked Zee as a main character, she was angry in a way that felt very real for someone in her situation. I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her big sister an This book had some genuinely creepy moments in it, not just “creepy for a Middle Grade story.” Zee starts seeing ghosts around the same time that a dark force starts impacting the townspeople. Along with the help of her best friend Elijah and her nemesis Nellie she has to learn how to defeat the bad guy and save her town. I really liked Zee as a main character, she was angry in a way that felt very real for someone in her situation. I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her big sister and with her best friend. The book did a great job of showing the different types of complex relationships that kids can have with their parents. Some aspects of how Zee learned where her ability to see ghosts came from felt too convenient. Also, while I liked the message behind how the kids defeated the villain, in the actual execution it felt too easy. I was left feeling like “... that’s it??” But overall I thought this was a spooky and charming story about kids coming together to save themselves and others.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lexi

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book absolutely blew my expectations out of the water! I couldn’t put it down the second I picked it up (even though, if I’m being honest, I read it in the dark and DID get a little scared and had to put it down to sleep but) and I finished most of it in only two hours. I love ghosts and paranormal and this middle grade was everything I would’ve wanted as a kid, it Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book absolutely blew my expectations out of the water! I couldn’t put it down the second I picked it up (even though, if I’m being honest, I read it in the dark and DID get a little scared and had to put it down to sleep but) and I finished most of it in only two hours. I love ghosts and paranormal and this middle grade was everything I would’ve wanted as a kid, it was everything I could’ve wanted now even. I saw myself, both young and current me, in Zee and I really felt for everything that she went through in this story—her hopes, her dreams, her disappoints in herself and yes, even the ghosts. There were many times where I had to put this book down and look around, because I honestly thought the author had written me and not a fictional character. This might be my favorite middle grade of all time, which is saying a lot because middle grades are fun reads that I almost always love. This book is PERFECT for spooky months, but I could read this at any time of the year and feel the same as I would in October. If you love ghosts, paranormal or even mysteries, give this book a chance, I promise it won’t disappoint you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alysa

    Zee Puckett, whose favorite book is Frankenstein, loves to tell scary stories. And the neighborhood cemetery is one of her favorite places to go with her best friend Elijah. Until one dark and stormy night when everything changes. People in town have begun mysteriously disappearing, and Zee is seeing the kinds of things she used to make up in her stories: large dogs with eyes full of blood, and ghosts, both friendly and terrifying. At the same time, there's anew, and creepy principal in town who Zee Puckett, whose favorite book is Frankenstein, loves to tell scary stories. And the neighborhood cemetery is one of her favorite places to go with her best friend Elijah. Until one dark and stormy night when everything changes. People in town have begun mysteriously disappearing, and Zee is seeing the kinds of things she used to make up in her stories: large dogs with eyes full of blood, and ghosts, both friendly and terrifying. At the same time, there's anew, and creepy principal in town who seems to be everywhere. And even worse, pretty and popular Nellie, who has never liked Zee, labels her with a new and cruel nickname: Ghost Girl. But when everyone in town begins to act in increasingly strange and dangerous ways, Zee and Elijah must band together with Nellie to find the truth and fight the dark forces that have overtaken their town. This fast-paced story is perfect for MG readers who love a creepy and scary adventure. But the book is also woven through with so much heart. In addition to running from hell-hounds and hiding from trees with eyes, Zee and her friends all face difficult personal and family issues. The beaut of the story is how they all come to terms with loss, anger, and grief -- all while defeating a powerful demon determined to take over their town. I highly recommend this heartfelt and exciting spooky adventure. Thank you to Edelweiss and the HarperCollins for the E-Arc.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Iseult Murphy

    I loved this story of 11 year old Zee who loves stories and has a combative relationship with the world. Her difficulties, and those of her friends, provide depth but are never intrusive in this exciting adventure about what comes to town after a storm hits peaceful Knobbs Ferry. This is exactly the kind of book I loved as a child (and still love). It’s full of excitement and scares, the pre teen characters are relatable and realistic, it doesn’t shy away from the hardships in life while showing I loved this story of 11 year old Zee who loves stories and has a combative relationship with the world. Her difficulties, and those of her friends, provide depth but are never intrusive in this exciting adventure about what comes to town after a storm hits peaceful Knobbs Ferry. This is exactly the kind of book I loved as a child (and still love). It’s full of excitement and scares, the pre teen characters are relatable and realistic, it doesn’t shy away from the hardships in life while showing the good things at the same time, while overall it talks about the temptations and pitfalls of life, and links to a truth that makes the book deeper, richer and more meaningful because of it. If I were to nitpick, I found the resolution a little disappointing, but with the stakes raised so high it was always going to be difficult for three 11 year olds to change the world in a way that wouldn’t be a little easy in some shape or form. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work. A definite recommendation, especially for fans of Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces series. Thank you to the author and the publisher for providing me with a free copy of the book. I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and I wanted to thank them and the publisher for allowing me the chance to read this book. I went back and forth and back and forth about my rating for this book, but I think I finally landed on a 2.5 stars rounded up to a 3. There was a lot about this book that was clever and captivating but there was also a lot that just didn’t work. As always, let’s start with what I enjoyed. The writing: For anyone who knows me well, the I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and I wanted to thank them and the publisher for allowing me the chance to read this book. I went back and forth and back and forth about my rating for this book, but I think I finally landed on a 2.5 stars rounded up to a 3. There was a lot about this book that was clever and captivating but there was also a lot that just didn’t work. As always, let’s start with what I enjoyed. The writing: For anyone who knows me well, they know I am a sucker for good writing style. In fact, it can make or break a book for me. In this case, there were large portions that were excellent – I was getting chills up my spine, my heart was racing with fear for our characters, and, during those moments, I was completely invested. The characters: There were certain aspects about the characters I really enjoyed. I loved Zee’s relationship with her sister – having a sister myself, it was easy to identify with and get invested in Zee and Abby. I loved their whole dynamic, especially Abby’s fierce desire to protect and provide for her little sister (while also, at times, wanting to strangle her. Which, if you have a sibling, is often how those relationships work.) I wasn’t as invested in Elijah and Nellie, especially since Nellie starts the book as a bully, but I appreciated Elijah’s concerns and sensitivity about his weight and appearance. I find this is an issue not often addressed in Middle Grade literature and it was heartening to see a character that kids might be able to identify with. And while I didn’t necessarily enjoy Nellie’s character (like, at all) it was encouraging to see a character who was portrayed in a negative light have some redemption in the end. No one is perfect and it’s important for kids to see characters who can change their ways. The story concept: Listen, I was here for this story concept. Ghosts, demons and creepy crawlies are my thing. There were a lot of solid ideas in this particular book and while it sometimes felt like there was too much going on for one story, many of these ideas were executed well. I do think I would have preferred for the author to narrow her focus a little and concentrate on doing a few things really well rather than doing a lot of things poorly. Now for the things I didn’t like. The writing: As I said above, there was a lot of great writing in this book. I want to stress that – there were portions where the book had me. However, a book cannot necessarily be saved by patches of good writing. And the bad patches here…they were pretty bad. This caused the pace to feel choppy; I would fly through bits and have to plod through others. It really dragged down my rating because I never felt like I knew if I was going to enjoy the next page or hate it. The characters: Listen, I know middle schoolers aren’t usually considered to be the wisest bunch out there, but man, these characters made some pretty dumb decisions. While there were things I really liked about Zee and her gang, their poor decision-making made it hard to root for them. The story concept: For the most part, I really liked what was going on here, as I have said above, despite sometimes have one too many elements. But man...that ending just about ruined the whole book. It’s all well and good to hit the notes throughout but the ending is often what sticks with the reader and a bad ending can sour an entire reading experience, as it did here. I don’t want to go into any details because, hello, spoilers, but I will say I was bitterly disappointed to spend all that time reading this book to have it end the way it did. This is what ended up dragging my rating down an entire star. So, on the whole, I had a (mostly) fun time reading this with some bumps along the way and an unfortunate pitfall at the end. I would be interested in reading more books by this author – sometimes a little practice and experience are needed to smooth the rough edges.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Such a deliciously creepy ride! Ally Malinenko has crafted a spooky MG story populated with characters you’ll root for. I fell for Zee and Elijah from the very beginning and was biting my nails as they tried to solve the mystery of the weird happenings in their town. Along the way they brave cemeteries, red-eyed hounds, and a sinister principal. They also battle everyday demons in their family relationships and their belief in themselves. A perfect mix of haunt and heart. Thank you to NetGalley Such a deliciously creepy ride! Ally Malinenko has crafted a spooky MG story populated with characters you’ll root for. I fell for Zee and Elijah from the very beginning and was biting my nails as they tried to solve the mystery of the weird happenings in their town. Along the way they brave cemeteries, red-eyed hounds, and a sinister principal. They also battle everyday demons in their family relationships and their belief in themselves. A perfect mix of haunt and heart. Thank you to NetGalley and Katherine Tegen Books for the eARC.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Calla

    GHOST GIRL is a fun horror-slash-mystery read, perfect for the MG crowd. The writing is superb and grabs the reader from the get-go, yet still manages to sound MG enough for a tween to read and enjoy. Zee is a wonderful, fully-developed (for her age) character, and I loved how she navigated her weird little town, and her not-so-perfect life. I loved GHOST GIRL so much, and read it twice to appreciate its layers. Besides the horror/mystery plot, the friendship between Zee and Elijah, and the devel GHOST GIRL is a fun horror-slash-mystery read, perfect for the MG crowd. The writing is superb and grabs the reader from the get-go, yet still manages to sound MG enough for a tween to read and enjoy. Zee is a wonderful, fully-developed (for her age) character, and I loved how she navigated her weird little town, and her not-so-perfect life. I loved GHOST GIRL so much, and read it twice to appreciate its layers. Besides the horror/mystery plot, the friendship between Zee and Elijah, and the developing friendship with Nellie, felt true and special. None of these characters was perfect on their own, but together they made for a wonderful trio. I also loved the familial aspects, and think it's important for the MG readers to see diverse families-- kids being raised by older sisters, parents who have unrealistic or aggressive expectations, parents who are mentally ill. I love that GHOST GIRL has children questioning authority figures, like principals. It's important that kids realize that if something feels not right, then they should pay heed to their instincts and confide in others. Even with these important themes, GHOST GIRL remains entertaining and thoughtful, and in the end, the kids are just kids, looking for acceptance, love, and be in a place, internally and externally, where they can feel safe and loved.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Dulaney

    Great horror story for those middle grade readers who keep asking me for scary and scarier! “Ghost Girl” will give them the spine tingles and creepy scenes that they want without the gore and overdone violence that they ask for, but absolutely do not need. Author Ally Malinenko uses well-chosen words to create images of blood-thirsty hound dogs, a demon in human form who feeds himself by sucking the hopes and dreams from the citizens in Knobb’s Ferry and also gives readers three tween heroes who Great horror story for those middle grade readers who keep asking me for scary and scarier! “Ghost Girl” will give them the spine tingles and creepy scenes that they want without the gore and overdone violence that they ask for, but absolutely do not need. Author Ally Malinenko uses well-chosen words to create images of blood-thirsty hound dogs, a demon in human form who feeds himself by sucking the hopes and dreams from the citizens in Knobb’s Ferry and also gives readers three tween heroes who have the strength to fight him as long as they stick together. Mixed in with the chills are clear themes of friendship, the importance of family, learning to value yourself, and most especially that focusing on self will surely bring trouble. The pacing is this book is fast and furious and seldom pauses which may keep those who don’t usually finish a 300 page book focused all the way to the end! Highly recommended for grades 5-8 and would not hesitate to also hand it to a 4th grade student who has enjoyed books by Mary Downing Hahn, Peg Kehret, or more contemporary Lindsay Currie. Thanks for the dARC, NetGalley.

  10. 4 out of 5

    James

    Another in the recent trend of very strong middle grade horror. Often truly chilling. But with great characters and plot development. And a very good message if caring for each other rather than simply looking out for what we think are our own best interests - a message that could really be used in America these days...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Krysta

    Source: Goodreads Giveaway Ghost Girl is a creepy middle-grade novel that will appeal to fans of Small Spaces. When a new principal comes to town and promises everyone their deepest desires, only Zoe seems immune to his charms. But she has seen the supernatural dogs roaming the graveyard, and she knows that the people and the things the principal is conjuring cannot be real. However, the lure of having what one wants most can be stronger even than the truth. Ghost Girl does not particularly stand Source: Goodreads Giveaway Ghost Girl is a creepy middle-grade novel that will appeal to fans of Small Spaces. When a new principal comes to town and promises everyone their deepest desires, only Zoe seems immune to his charms. But she has seen the supernatural dogs roaming the graveyard, and she knows that the people and the things the principal is conjuring cannot be real. However, the lure of having what one wants most can be stronger even than the truth. Ghost Girl does not particularly stand out from similar spooky middle-grade titles, but may interest tween readers who enjoy thrills and chills. The premise of having a trickster-like character who promises one thing but delivers another is, of course, a very old one. As such, it does potentially have instant appeal–the character has been around so long for a reason. However, the familiarity of the concept can also make it difficult to make it feel new. In the case of Ghost Girl, the plot is a pretty standard one: the trickster comes to town, is recognized for what he is by a child, and then defeated by the rules of his own game. The signature sparks that make the tale feel original? Unfortunately, they are mostly lacking. Great characters could have made this book really come alive. However, Zee also feels a bit standard as a protagonist. She is the odd girl at school, the one who prefers spooky stories and the world of the imagination to the horrible feeling of reality–her dead mom, her missing dad, her classmate bullies. Her main trait of originality is that she can actually be rather mean and dishonest, despite her complaints about the way others act. This mean streak, however, sometimes work against Zee, making it difficult to root for her. Her friend Elijah and her nemesis Nellie add a bit more of interest to the story, but their sudden romantic interest in each other feels forced, arguably ruining what could have been a fine tale of budding friendships. The writing style also worked against the book for me. While it can be difficult at times to pinpoint exactly what about a writing style is grating, merely the fact that I noticed the writing style, instead of seamlessly falling into the story, is not a good sign. If I had not felt compelled to finish Ghost Girl in order to write a review, I likely would have stopped several pages in, from the writing alone. Despite my reading experience, however, I recognize that the tween audience for which the book is intended might not be as concerned about originality as I am, and that many might even enjoy seeing another outsider character. Middle school, after all, can be rough, and many young people often feel that they do not belong, either. They may enjoy the book as something new, when I cannot, since I have read many similar titles. And they might relate to Zee in a way I do not, again having seen too many similar characters. Ultimately, the reading experience was solid enough, if not extraordinary.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Candice

    Ghost Girl is another 2021 debut on my Much Anticipation list and did not disappoint! I loved how Zee was a storyteller even if she got teased for it, and her and Elijah's friendship was awesome. I REALLY disliked Nellie and couldn't see how they'd ever get to a point where they could work together, so Malinenko did an amazing job with her characters. And plot and pacing. I did think the scene when the ghost first appeared to Zee was a little scary (even to late 30s me, lol) so I personally would Ghost Girl is another 2021 debut on my Much Anticipation list and did not disappoint! I loved how Zee was a storyteller even if she got teased for it, and her and Elijah's friendship was awesome. I REALLY disliked Nellie and couldn't see how they'd ever get to a point where they could work together, so Malinenko did an amazing job with her characters. And plot and pacing. I did think the scene when the ghost first appeared to Zee was a little scary (even to late 30s me, lol) so I personally would recommend it more for 10 and up but every child reader is different! (And once Zee figured out who the ghost was, it wasn't as scary anymore, but you had to read through to get to that part, of course.) My absolute favorite part of this book (besides the library-love which I am always here for) was that CONSENT is the secret weapon. (I don't think that's spoilery because I'm keeping it out of context for this review.) I was cheering as I read and think it's such a great message to make consent so powerful. Love, love, love. Thank you to Harper Collins Childrens for the advance copy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Schmid

    I love a good ghost story and GHOST GIRL did not disappoint. The mystery and the endearing friendships, coupled with the pacing and storytelling kept me turning the page well past midnight. The perfect time to read a spooky middle-grade novel. Frighteningly good debut novel!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Adam

    This is a fast-paced book perfect for readers looking for a spooky tale about ghosts, mysterious hounds, and a school principal with a sinister agenda. Woven through the quick adventure, though, are threads about navigating difficult family dynamics, looking past assumptions to forge true friendships, and finding your own way through the constraints of others' expectations. In order to save her friends and solve the mystery that haunts her town, Zee has to come to terms with her own anger, grief This is a fast-paced book perfect for readers looking for a spooky tale about ghosts, mysterious hounds, and a school principal with a sinister agenda. Woven through the quick adventure, though, are threads about navigating difficult family dynamics, looking past assumptions to forge true friendships, and finding your own way through the constraints of others' expectations. In order to save her friends and solve the mystery that haunts her town, Zee has to come to terms with her own anger, grief, and fear. Her growing sense of understanding gives this story substance and depth.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    An absolute must-read! love all things spooky and this is such a great middle-grade horror story! I love the representation and strong female main character! I was lucky to read and ARC of this back in January and still am thinking about it months later!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    In Ghost Girl, we get to know Zee Puckett, a sixth-grader who has a lot on her plate. She would rather be wild and adventure, or read and tell stories than do the things she should be doing. Cleaning is stupid because things will just to get dirty again, and homework? Studying for tests? Being lady-like? Ugh. More than anything Zee just wants people to let her be who she is instead of trying to change her all the time. Zee is an incredible character and the depth of her feelings is a huge stron In Ghost Girl, we get to know Zee Puckett, a sixth-grader who has a lot on her plate. She would rather be wild and adventure, or read and tell stories than do the things she should be doing. Cleaning is stupid because things will just to get dirty again, and homework? Studying for tests? Being lady-like? Ugh. More than anything Zee just wants people to let her be who she is instead of trying to change her all the time. Zee is an incredible character and the depth of her feelings is a huge strong point for this book. Zee’s life is far from perfect and the author shows us Zee trying to deal with big feelings and confusion in a way that feels accurate and honest to what a 6th grader could really do. But the scene that really made me connect with Zee takes place at recess with her bully Nellie. Nellie lays into Zee. Calling her names, and somehow giving voice to Zee’s inner fears in the way that only a bully really can. At that moment I stopped being a reader and I was Zee. I remember being in situations like this. Except Zee has the reaction I wish I had. Tell Me about the Ghosts: I picked up Ghost Girl because I like being scared and Malinenko delivers on this promise! The shadow creatures and ghosts are perfect. They are creepy and dark and honestly, I’d be terrified if I encountered them. But it is the suspense, the howling, and noises coming to get you that really build the creepy factor. I finished the book late at night and was sure I heard whispers in the dark. What Could Have Been Better: There isn’t much I’d change. In the research at the library scene, Zee and friends come across an entry with a name they recognize. This confirms our suspicions that this character isn’t what they seem. I really wanted a little bit more mythology or lore. It feels like a missed opportunity to up the stakes a little bit higher. I never really felt that characters were in life or death danger, and adding a bit of history about the bad guy could have raised the stakes without changing anything else that happens because we’d be aware of what *could* happen. ; TLDR ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko is an excellent book that balances big feelings and realistic character with spine-tingling ghosts, evil shadow creatures, and the power of friendship. I wish this book had been around when my daughter was younger. I think she could have found a friend in Zee who understands the loneliness of school and feeling like you only have one friend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathie

    Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book. If you have young readers who love creepy books, then you'll want to make sure this is on your radar for August 2021. Dark magic, ghosts, evil beasts, and wishes that don't quite come true will keep readers turning the pages to see what's going to happen next. Zee and her older sister, Abby, have been doing their best to get by after their dad left six months ago to find work in another state. She likes hanging out in the cemetery Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book. If you have young readers who love creepy books, then you'll want to make sure this is on your radar for August 2021. Dark magic, ghosts, evil beasts, and wishes that don't quite come true will keep readers turning the pages to see what's going to happen next. Zee and her older sister, Abby, have been doing their best to get by after their dad left six months ago to find work in another state. She likes hanging out in the cemetery with her best friend, Elijah, and loves to tell ghost stories...until she actually starts seeing things like beasts with red eyes and ghosts hiding in her living room. Zee can't explain these strange occurrences, but they seemed linked to the arrival of the new school principal, Principal Scratch. The townspeople are convinced that Principal Scratch and his ability to encourage people to manifest their dreams are a godsend, but Zee realizes there's something very suspicious about the fulfillment of these wishes. She teams up with Elijah and her nemesis, Nellie, who has bullied her but for some reason is one of the only people who believe Zee might be telling the truth. Together, the trio have to work together to research and understand who Principal Scratch really is, and how they can withstand his alluring powers to defeat him. First of all, I'm a sucker for a helpful librarian and the role the library plays in a story in this story. I love that the story is dark and spooky, but just the right amount for many middle grade readers. I love the unexpected teaming up of Ally and her enemy, Nellie, and how they are able to overcome their past to work together with Elijah as a team. I love how the ghosts and magical elements result in unexpected twists, and how Ally understands more about herself and her family in the process. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Tyler

    Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko is currently scheduled for release on August 10 2021. Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one. It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even a ghost. When she tells her classmates, only her best friend Elijah believ Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko is currently scheduled for release on August 10 2021. Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one. It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even a ghost. When she tells her classmates, only her best friend Elijah believes her. Worse, mean girl Nellie gives Zee a cruel nickname: Ghost Girl. But whatever the storm washed up isn’t going away. Everyone’s most selfish wishes start coming true in creepy ways. To fight for what’s right, Zee will have to embrace what makes her different and what makes her Ghost Girl. And all three of them—Zee, Elijah, and Nellie—will have to work together if they want to give their ghost story a happy ending. Ghost Girl is a story that did a great job of showing the main character's growth with keeping readers on the edge of their seat. Zee is at that crossroads that just about everyone suffers through. They are not really little kids anymore, not quite a teen, and every thing feels huge and important. This is even harder when you, and others, perceive yourself as different. School, family, and peer relationships are hard even when things are typical, but when you are not it get even harder. Add in some disappearances, scary looking dogs, ghosts, and a odd new principal and things are really going to get worse. I liked the balance of the supernatural and coming of age aspects of the story. The character development and growth for Zee, Nellie, and Elijah is very well done and I loved the path that they took. I also thought most of the mystical aspects of the story were very well done, and I liked that there were some unexpected things included. I will say that I rather anticipated the big bad, and when they hit the page was even more clear that they were the root cause, but I enjoyed the path the story took us on and the lessons learned along the way. Ghost Girl is a middle grade novel with a good blend of spooky and character growth. I will be looking for more from the author.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    I was so ready to read something a little spooky and Ghost Girl hit all the right notes. It's a very atmospheric kind of spooky, with the dark woods, mysterious enveloping fog, the cemetery and of course the dark stormy night. Not to mention the scary dogs and ghosts that appear to Zee. Yep all the elements for spooky. Zee (11 yo) is an interesting character, and I really liked her relationship with her older sister Abigail (21 yo), who is put in charge of caring for her while their dad looks fo I was so ready to read something a little spooky and Ghost Girl hit all the right notes. It's a very atmospheric kind of spooky, with the dark woods, mysterious enveloping fog, the cemetery and of course the dark stormy night. Not to mention the scary dogs and ghosts that appear to Zee. Yep all the elements for spooky. Zee (11 yo) is an interesting character, and I really liked her relationship with her older sister Abigail (21 yo), who is put in charge of caring for her while their dad looks for work in another town. I love how Zee likes reading Frankenstein over and over again, and loves telling scary stories. Then there's Elijah, Zee's best friend who was by far my favorite character, partly because I had a best friend who was also a boy growing up, but also because I felt for his family situation. Having a complicated home life with a mother who has a mental illness and a father that placed all these demands on him, belittling him because of his weight and his desire to have his son be an athlete. I felt for his situation and think other kids could too. Nellie even grew on me, even though she was bullying Zee in the beginning, her home life was also complicated. However, I couldn't seem to buy into Elijah's and Nellie's romance, it happened way too quick, and I don't believe he would forgive Nellie's past bullying or let it slide like that. I did like that Nellie redeemed herself by the end though. In addition to the spookiness, my favorite parts of the story would have to be the messaging that people are more complex than their initial appearance, more nuanced, and therefore we should never make assumptions based on popularity, money or trivial things. It's important to see beneath the surface. I also really loved the messaging about how words have power for good or can be hurtful. How it's important not to stand by and watch someone be degraded or humiliated, to instead say something. Even if it's just grabbing a teacher's attention. Overall, this was a fun quick read with creepy and scary moments and a satisfying ending. I'm hopeful there will be more stories with these characters. Pair this with Nightbooks by J.A. White or perhaps The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery by Allison Rushby. **A huge thank you to Sabrina Kenoun from Spark Point Studio for the E-ARC**

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    2.5 stars rounded up. Ghost Girl was pretty intense. On one hand, I sometimes have students who want scary stories. Ghost Girl delivers on scary, for sure. The head villain is fantastic and his story unfolds very nicely. The minions were very scary as well. Elijah is the best of friend of the main character, Zee. He is a great supporting character. But there is something just "off" about the rest of the story. In the beginning, the main character is angry to the point of being violent. It made i 2.5 stars rounded up. Ghost Girl was pretty intense. On one hand, I sometimes have students who want scary stories. Ghost Girl delivers on scary, for sure. The head villain is fantastic and his story unfolds very nicely. The minions were very scary as well. Elijah is the best of friend of the main character, Zee. He is a great supporting character. But there is something just "off" about the rest of the story. In the beginning, the main character is angry to the point of being violent. It made it difficult for me to root for her. I'm not sure that anger was resolved in enough of a healthy manner for me to be comfortable recommending this story to my 5th graders. Also, there were some highly convenient solutions to some of the problems the characters faced. There were things I liked, but in the end, this story's not for me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Miya

    This is a fun and spooky Middle Grade story. Perfect for those who like little mystery and paranormal read without gore and intense fear. Zee is very special. Unfortunately, she deals with bullying at school. She doesn’t know how to embrace her unique differences. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the story has lovely lessons of friendship, forgiveness, and self acceptance. The spooky factor is perfect for 5th through middle grade. All around a fun read even for adults. Thank you NetGalley for This is a fun and spooky Middle Grade story. Perfect for those who like little mystery and paranormal read without gore and intense fear. Zee is very special. Unfortunately, she deals with bullying at school. She doesn’t know how to embrace her unique differences. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the story has lovely lessons of friendship, forgiveness, and self acceptance. The spooky factor is perfect for 5th through middle grade. All around a fun read even for adults. Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Grabs

    I love middle grade ghost stories and Ghost Girl did not disappoint. We join Zee and her friend Elijah as they deal with what the world throws at them, the best way they can, by disappearing into one of Zee's wild stories. But when the new Principal moves to town, her stories seem more fact than fiction. Ghost Girl has the standard "I'm secretly jealous of you, so I will bully you" trope and a bit too many plot convenient elements, but it is an exciting, quick read. This book felt like Stephen K I love middle grade ghost stories and Ghost Girl did not disappoint. We join Zee and her friend Elijah as they deal with what the world throws at them, the best way they can, by disappearing into one of Zee's wild stories. But when the new Principal moves to town, her stories seem more fact than fiction. Ghost Girl has the standard "I'm secretly jealous of you, so I will bully you" trope and a bit too many plot convenient elements, but it is an exciting, quick read. This book felt like Stephen King's Needful Things meets Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes meets The Ghost Whisperer for kids. Overall, it was a wonderful read that will keep kids reading. Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins Children's Books for the opportunity to read an advance reading copy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Monica Rodriguez

    Such a fantastic book! Definitely scary - but not so bad I lost sleep, which to me is the perfect balance. I love the characters - and I love the lack of tropes and the agency these kid characters have. Beautifully written and definitely made me want to cry too. Great book!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Antoinette

    Spooktacular!! Ghost Girl has has such a relatable characters; Zee dealing with family issues, school bullies and embracing a gift passed down from her mother that she didn't know about. Elijah dealing with his father trying to change him and Nellie living the seemingly perfect life and having trouble at home. They tackle these issues all while trying to save their entire town from dark forces. I always enjoy when characters learn lessons while helping ghosts. This is definitely a story of perso Spooktacular!! Ghost Girl has has such a relatable characters; Zee dealing with family issues, school bullies and embracing a gift passed down from her mother that she didn't know about. Elijah dealing with his father trying to change him and Nellie living the seemingly perfect life and having trouble at home. They tackle these issues all while trying to save their entire town from dark forces. I always enjoy when characters learn lessons while helping ghosts. This is definitely a story of personal strength, friendship and growth. A great ghost story for middle school students! Thanks NetGalley!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Morrell

    The right amount of character combined with this super creepy middle grade tale. I honestly couldn't stop once I began. I miss Zee, Elijah and Nellie already. This must become other novels of delightful paranormal activity!! Personally I loved the librarian Aunt Betty! Her response was classic, of course I'll help, I'm a librarian! The right amount of character combined with this super creepy middle grade tale. I honestly couldn't stop once I began. I miss Zee, Elijah and Nellie already. This must become other novels of delightful paranormal activity!! Personally I loved the librarian Aunt Betty! Her response was classic, of course I'll help, I'm a librarian!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lana Price

    Zee (short for Zera) is a 6th grader in a very small town. She has only one friend, Elijah. They love to tell stories and creep into the cemetery when they hang out. Unfortunately, Zee is constantly picked on by here classmates. They call her Zero, and a trip to a large library upstate, they begin to call her Ghost Girl because one of the girls catches her seemingly talking to herself. After the bullying goes too far, Zee takes it into her own hands and starts a fight with her biggest bully, Nell Zee (short for Zera) is a 6th grader in a very small town. She has only one friend, Elijah. They love to tell stories and creep into the cemetery when they hang out. Unfortunately, Zee is constantly picked on by here classmates. They call her Zero, and a trip to a large library upstate, they begin to call her Ghost Girl because one of the girls catches her seemingly talking to herself. After the bullying goes too far, Zee takes it into her own hands and starts a fight with her biggest bully, Nellie. Shortly after, their elementary school gets a new principal and weird things start to happen--strange and spooky things. Zee and Elijah unexpectedly team up with Nellie to get to the bottom of the start happenings of their little town. They are in for a wild ride full of spooky and thrilling adventures. This was a story that kept me engaged the whole time. I think it is a good, fun read! I would definitely recommend it to my students who are reading at a middle-grade level!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julia Pika

    Thanks to NetGalley & HarperCollins Children's Books for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Ghost Girl follows Zee who is a creative storyteller, which does make her unpopular in school since her stories are considered "lies" rather than unique stories. She lives with her older sister who works her butt off to support the two of them while their father is out of town. Everything's pretty ordinary...until weird things start to happen. And no one believes Zee. A very fun thriller/my Thanks to NetGalley & HarperCollins Children's Books for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Ghost Girl follows Zee who is a creative storyteller, which does make her unpopular in school since her stories are considered "lies" rather than unique stories. She lives with her older sister who works her butt off to support the two of them while their father is out of town. Everything's pretty ordinary...until weird things start to happen. And no one believes Zee. A very fun thriller/mystery/supernatural story that was hard to put down. Zee was a really fun protagonist and Elijah a great side character with depth of his own. Nellie bogged the story down to me because she was just so...outright nasty to Zee. I know redemption arcs are popular lately but it wasn't handled too well here, Nellie was just consistently rude to everyone to make her redemption believable. That's just me though. The romance between Elijah and Nellie was ridiculous to me, it really broke the rhythm of the book in some parts. Why would Elijah be willing to date a girl that'd been bullying Zee for years? I would've seen this happen in the second book when some time passes and Nellie had completely redeemed herself but she was in the middle of her redemption arc and the romance just came out of nowhere, frankly. I like a good romance but it was just annoying in here. Still, I found it hard to put this ghost mystery down and I do recommend it for middle graders who are looking for a solid mystery/supernatural story that's not too outright traumatizing, ha.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jas Asbill

    While there are many things to love about this book, the reality written in the worlds of the characters is what I appreciate the most. Zee’s mom has died and her father has had to travel out of town to find work to support them leaving the sister to raise Zee and provide what she can. Elijah has a dad who is having a hard time accepting him for who he is and a mom who can’t seem to pull herself out of a debilitating depression. At school, Zee struggles with being bullied by someone that turns o While there are many things to love about this book, the reality written in the worlds of the characters is what I appreciate the most. Zee’s mom has died and her father has had to travel out of town to find work to support them leaving the sister to raise Zee and provide what she can. Elijah has a dad who is having a hard time accepting him for who he is and a mom who can’t seem to pull herself out of a debilitating depression. At school, Zee struggles with being bullied by someone that turns out to have a family story of her own. These things aren’t the focus of this book but for many readers, it is a peek into a world that is very real for them at home but not often seen in middle grade stories. I can’t imagine what it would have felt like to see my family situation in a book as a kid, to safely feel seen in my otherwise hidden world. CAWPILE Rating: 10

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cynde Reid

    On a stormy night in the local cemetery Zee spots something that will change her life. As she figures out what is happening in her town along with her best friend she also has to navigate the situation with her school nemesis. This book was brilliant from the start, I couldn't put it down. I immediately fell in love with Zee the main character, She has a lot of moxie and wit. She was spot on with her critique of the small minded, small town women she discussed. The book moved along at a steady p On a stormy night in the local cemetery Zee spots something that will change her life. As she figures out what is happening in her town along with her best friend she also has to navigate the situation with her school nemesis. This book was brilliant from the start, I couldn't put it down. I immediately fell in love with Zee the main character, She has a lot of moxie and wit. She was spot on with her critique of the small minded, small town women she discussed. The book moved along at a steady pace that really kept me interested. There was never a dull moment. During the story Zee learns a lot about herself and grows but still keeps all of her spunk that makes her interesting and she even picks up some new skills.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Reem Faruqi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I want to preface that I don't watch scary movies or read scary books.* But I figured I could handle a ghost story if it was middle grade! I'd heard good things about this book! This book is eerily delicious. It's fast paced but not just a ghost story. Its full of friendship and family. Its about taking a stand when no one else will. It's about grief and healing. It's about finding the friends you didn't know you had. It's about handling tough topics with your parents and staying true to oneself . I want to preface that I don't watch scary movies or read scary books.* But I figured I could handle a ghost story if it was middle grade! I'd heard good things about this book! This book is eerily delicious. It's fast paced but not just a ghost story. Its full of friendship and family. Its about taking a stand when no one else will. It's about grief and healing. It's about finding the friends you didn't know you had. It's about handling tough topics with your parents and staying true to oneself . *Also if you are a scaredy cat like me, may be a good idea to not read chapter 7 late at night alone in the dark like I did! Scary!! But good!!

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