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The Ghost in Apartment 2R: 12/07/19

The Ghost in Apartment 2R

The Ghost in Apartment 2R by Denis Markell is set in Brooklyn during the fall. Danny's been promised his brother's room for years but now that he's at Cornell, his parents decide to rent it out to help offset the costs. That means he's still stuck sleeping in a converted walk in closet. As soon as they start to revamp the bedroom, weird things begin to happen and Danny soon begins to believe the room might be haunted.

Convincing everyone else though is no easy task. The ghost, if there is one, is subtle at first. The IKEA furniture falls apart. The door opens when it should be open. There's a knocking when no one is there. But then the first guests arrive and things get really weird. The ghost starts talking through them and she seems hellbent on haunting Danny.

So often when there's a ghost story set in New York, the answer to the problem is to bust it. You either do it with paranormal science, a la Ghostbusters or you exorcise it, a la The Sentinel by Jeffrey Krovitz (1974).

But here's the thing: New York is a diverse city and different cultures have different traditional beliefs about ghosts. Danny and his friends, Nat and Gus do the homework to figure out what kind of ghost is haunting the apartment and what it wants. Yes, they're scared of it, but they're also willing to do the work to figure out the best way of dealing with whomever is in Jake's room.

As part of the research project, Denis Markell includes a number of retellings of ghost stories. My personal favorite was from the Thousand and One Nights and tells of a man who was transformed into dog by his ghoul of a wife. (And that got me on a side tangent of rewatching The Shaggy Dog, although that film takes it's inspiration from The Hound of Florence by Felix Salten (1923)).

The novel also happens to fit on the road narrative spectrum in the same spot as The Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake (2018). While Danny and Jake are separated by geography because Jake is at college and Danny is at home, they still do work together on the final solution. Therefore, I'm counting Jake and Danny as joint, sibling travelers (CC). The destination is uhoria (CC), or more specifically, uncovering the event that has now made the ghost restless to understand how to set her at ease. The route taken is the Blue Highway (33), meaning here the streets of New York as Danny and his friends do the legwork to understand and identify the ghost. All together this novel is about siblings who face uhoria via the Blue Highways (CCCC33).

Five stars

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