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The The Girl and the Ghost: 12/12/20
The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alka is a middle grade fantasy that begins like a fairytale. An old witch dies and sends the pelesit she has enslaved to serve her grand-daughter. With a few drops of blood the little girl and the magical creature who spends most of his time in the form of a grasshopper are bonded.
But this fairytale is set in modern day Malaysia. It's also about Suraya growing up poor but doing well enough academically to get into a better school. It's about her being bullied and not wanting Pink (her name for the pelesit) to take revenge on her behalf. It's about her making friends with a new girl and the jealousy that arrises in Pink.
It's also about family secrets. It's about the witch and a well intentioned bad decision. It's about a mother's guilt and desire above all else to keep her daughter safe.
The resolution to events set in motion by the witch places The Girl and the Ghost onto the road narrative spectrum as an outlier. My analysis here will contain spoilers. If you've not read the book, stop reading now.
The short, non-spoilery version is that I loved this book and rate it five stars. The book is a good read along thematically with:
The way I've defined the different narrative types centers the protagonist, or traveler as I call them. Who the traveler is in this novel is the crux of the surprise. For the majority of the trip that Suraya takes to break Pink from the witch's curse, one can argue that she and her companion, Jing, would collectively count as marginalized travelers. However, over the course of their journey, it becomes apparent that Pink is more to Suraya than a bonded spirit. He and she are siblings (CC).
The journey to learn the truth and break the curse is a journey to uhoria (CC). Namely they need to retrace the witch's life to find where she first captured Pink. The destination in the literal sense is a graveyard, another waypoint in uhoria.
While the destination is a magical one, the route there is a practical one, namely the blue highway (33). As this is Malaysia, it's not a literal part of the older US highway system. Instead, it's a bus route through paved roads and towns with numerous stops along the way. In this regard, I'm reminded of the recurring afternoon bus in the Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon.
To summarize, The Girl and the Ghost sits on the road narrative spectrum as the tale of siblings traveling to uhoria via the blue highway (CCCC33).