Book review | The Girl and The Ghost by Hanna Alkaf


Author: Hanna Alkaf

Genre: Middle Grade

No. of pages: 275

Published by: HarperCollins

Published on: 5th September 2020

Format: Paperback 

My rating: ★★★★★

I am a dark spirit, the ghost announced grandly. I am your inheritance, your grandmother’s legacy. I am yours to command. Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink and the two quickly become inseparable. But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive . . . before they are lost to the darkness. Perfect for fans of Holly Black’s Doll Bones and Tahereh Mafi’s Furthermore series, this ghostly middle grade debut explores jealousy, love, and the extraordinary power of friendship.

Disclaimer: This middle grade novel made me, a 24 year old, cry. Wait, I didn't just cry. It was full-fledged sobbing. I felt like I sold a piece of my heart after reading the book. Don't be fooled by the pretty cover, because the book is dark.

It starts of with a witch letting go of a pelesit (a kind of ghost that brings tragedies and misfortunes to people in Malay legends), but the catch it, the pelesit has to always have an owner and the owner should share the same blood as the previous owner. And that's how the pelesit ends up with little Suraya, the estranged granddaughter of the witch.

Little Suraya, much to the pelesit's shock, names him Pink! Suraya is an oddball in the little village so Pink ends up being her only friend. And when Suraya grows up and starts going to school in the big city, Pink saves her from the school bullies. With the sudden entry of a new friend in the otherwise friendless Suraya's life, Pink finds a newfound jealousy which soon turns toxic and dangerous.

This book will provide you with chills. The toxic friendship will scare you, it will make you want to dive inside the story and save Suraya. It will make remind you of the days when you used to be a kid and were afraid of having your friendship stolen from you. And much of this book is based on family, and the pain of losing someone.

Hanna Alkaf brings you Malaysian myths and legends revolving ghost and unnatural beings, power-packed in a haunting story. This book will make you feel things, it will make you sad, it will make your heart ache for all the children who left the world too soon, gone too early. And lastly, it will make you sob and be grateful to be living.

This book has easily become one of my favourites till date. 

Hanna Alkaf's writing style is so hauntingly beautiful. I really don't know how to say it otherwise. It's like watching a movie with the sepia filter on. I read the book in a trance, the writing calls to you. It was lyrical. And even though the narration had a child-like innocence as if its being told to a child, in fact, it somehow felt conspiratorial as if its luring an adult. 

Narrated from both Suraya and Pink's perspective, it gives you a fresh look at the concept of toxic friendship. Interspersed with a fair amount of comic relief, this book is nevertheless very dark. 

Hanna Alkaf is a writer from Malaysia, where the legend of the pelesit originated.She is also the author of the young adult novel The Weight of Our Sky, and her work has appeared in Shape, Esquire, and Marie Claire, among others. The Girl and the Ghost is her first novel for middle grade readers. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her family

I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.


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