The Hungry Ghost by H.S. Norup

Firstly, huge thanks to NetGalley and Pushkin Press for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Pushkin Children’s
Publication Date:
Length: 256 pages
Fantasy | Middle Grade

CW: n/a

Freja arrives in Singapore during the month of the hungry ghost, when old spirits are said to roam the streets and families must make offerings to appease their ancestors. She’s homesick for her Danish hometown and isn’t sure she fits in with the ‘happy family’ of her father, her step-mother and twin step-brothers.

As Freja tries to settle into her new life, a mysterious girl in a white dress starts to appear to her, seeming to beckon her on. Following this figure, Freja begins to unravel an old family mystery – one that must be solved before the month is over, to allow both girls to be freed from secrets long-buried.



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. 

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.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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