Best Friends Forever. And Ever and Ever…


Anya’s Ghost

It’s Halloween Week! Got more room for ghosts? Heck yes, we do.

This graphic novel by Vera Brosgol comes across, at least initially, as a typical teen coming-of-age story. Anya Borzakovskaya is the daughter of a Russian immigrant. She’s frustrated with her family, frustrated with school, frustrated with her (kinda sorta) best friend Siobhan, frustrated with her body and her (lack of) love life and everything else around her. And then one day, Anya falls into a hole in the park and finds a skeleton. And the skeleton comes with a ghost attached — a skinny little girl named Emily who’s been stuck in the hole for 90 years.

When Anya gets rescued, Emily ends up tagging along. Anya doesn’t much want a ghost in her life, but she is helpful in certain ways. She can help her with answers during tests. She can find out when her crush will be out of class. She gives her tips on being popular. Emily wants to be Anya’s friend forever. And that could be a problem, because Emily is keeping secrets, and she’s a lot more dangerous than she lets on…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m not sure I was expecting a lot from this. It really starts out as the way we’ve seen a couple dozen other graphic novels — misunderstood geek girl, unhappy with her life, grows up, becomes more mature, learns to appreciate the friends and family she has and maybe makes some more friends, too.

This one? It follows the familiar path for a while, and then, slowly, it turns into fairly straightforward horror. The end goal is still the same — personal and emotional growth for the protagonist — but it’s interesting how much the tension and fright ramps up, and how serious and powerful the threat becomes. There’s no gore or anything like that, but it’s still a nice piece of low-key horror.

The characters are great, too. Anya and Emily are the obvious focal points, but Anya’s mother and brother are also very well-created. Everyone else is fun, too — there’s not a dull character in the bunch — snarky Siobhan, geeky Dima, skeezy Sean, beautiful but miserable Elizabeth, even the school principal at the end.

Vera Brosgol’s art is moderately cartoony — but as I know I’ve said plenty of times before, cartooning helps make the characters and situations more universal, more appealing, and more emotional. And the art does a fantastic job of conveying the humor of the story, as well as the eerie shenanigans going on behind the scenes.

It’s a genuinely frightening comic. So go pick it up.

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