The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date: September 10th, 2019
There’s lots of kidlit out there about extraordinary children–children who have magical powers or are secret saviors of hidden worlds or just prodigies of some kind. It’s empowering with a sort of general understanding from readers that it’s largely wish fulfillment. Kids are typically not cool and collected enough to be super spies, but it’s fun to read about a kid who is. And if a ten-year-old really could wave a wand and send fireballs down a hallway, detention would be the least of school problems.
The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills pulls off a child protagonist with an extraordinary ability who is also extraordinarily authentic. Shelly, like her grandmother, is able to connect with ghosts, talk to them, and carry them from one place to another using her hair as a vehicle. Her natural curiosity about them, coupled with her desire to take on jobs like an adult makes the supernatural element so matter-of-fact and effortless. I never thought I could read a story about a character bringing a ghost home and believe it so thoroughly. The descriptions of how it feels it actually hold a ghost in one’s hair were especially well-written and vivid. The ghosts themselves don’t merely act like translucent humans but have a distant disconnect with the mortal world. They fixate on what was important to them in life but are disinterested in what’s happening in the present, very much like characters stuck between two worlds.
At the heart of the story, though, is Shelly’s relationship with her mother, who doesn’t want her daughter spending so much time chatting with the dead. The mother and grandmother present opposing views (and Shelly definitely sides with Grandma), but the love between mother and daughter never wavers. The relationship is real; one of ups and downs, good times and bad times. Ultimately, this was one of those books that intrigued me from the start, and while I originally encountered this title on Netgalley, I just had to buy it for myself. I consumed it in a single afternoon, barely able to put it down, and although I don’t cry at books very often, I was misty-eyed by the end of it. A strongly recommended read.
Rating: 5 out of 5
You can find The Ghost Collector on Goodreads
You can also buy the book on Amazon: The Ghost Collector (Affiliate link)