Firstly, huge thanks to NetGalley and Pushkin Press for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book will be published on 24 September 2020.
The beautiful bright cover caught my eye and as soon as I read the description I just knew I had to get my hands on this book. It sounded like such a wonderful story and just a couple of pages in, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed.
The Hungry Ghost takes place in Singapore during the month of the hungry ghost, where the doors to the realm of the dead are open and ghosts and spirits wander the streets accepting offerings left out by their ancestors. Freja arrives in Singapore to live with her father and his new family, one she’s not sure she wants to be a part of. One day she comes across a mysterious girl in white who seems to beckon her into an adventure she wasn’t expecting to happen.
I loved Freja. She was such a unique and refreshing child protagonist with a clear sense of self that was very endearing. I really liked the way her internal conflict was written and how it was expressed throughout the course of the novel, how she fights herself and her step-family to ensure that she isn’t forgotten by her family back in Denmark. I particularly enjoyed her interactions with Ling, and how she wanted to do everything possible to help her even if it did cause trouble for her. I felt that Norup really captured the voices of all the children in the novel really well, and they actually felt like children which isn’t always the case when it comes to child characters in novels.
The way this novel was written was brilliant and the plot was gripping. I easily devoured this book as I just had to know what was going to happen next. I was also fascinated by all of the different tales of Malay superstitions and folk tales. I enjoyed learning about them as Freja did, especially as a lot of it was taught to her by exasperated friends who didn’t understand why she didn’t know things (like, it’s a bad idea to follow a ghost or go to a cemetery at night).
This novel was pure brilliance with such unique characters and a wonderful mystery that you were dying to uncover, just as much as Freja. At the heart of the novel is a story about family and still being a family at a distance (in the realm of the living and dead), with a hint of magic thrown in to make this an adventure you soon won’t forget. I highly recommend picking this novel up when it is published on 24 September 2020!