Monday, 10 May 2010

Ghostgirl: Homecoming by Tonya Hurley

Charlotte may have graduated Dead Ed but that's not the end of her story. Life, for Charlotte, was one bitter disappointment after another. And it seems death isn't going to be much different. Convinced that graduating Dead Ed was her route to the afterlife Charlotte is a little surprised to find she has to complete an internship! Answering the phones at a help centre for troubled teens isn't proving brilliantly exciting. Until Scarlet calls: a pedicure-gone-hideously-wrong has landed Petula in a coma and Scarlet thinks Charlotte is the only person who can help...

I really enjoyed Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley and was eager to read Ghostgirl: Homecoming. In this book we follow Charlotte as she learns to cope with life after Dead Ed. Interestingly, we have a few more character perspectives in this book than the first, following Scarlett, Petula and Damen more extensively. This helps to flesh Ghostgirl: Homecoming out a little more than the first novel, lending extra depth to the characters mentioned.

However, the story perplexed me somewhat. The wonderfully dark humour was ever-present - here we have the shallow Petula being put into a coma by a failed pedicure, and her detestable cronies (the Wendys) coming up with funeral chic clothing to wear as one part of the novel. I love the subversive nature of the humour, which never fails to entertain. But the plot itself in this book seemed all over the place. For a long time I had no idea who Maddy was and why she was trying so hard to do damage to Charlotte. The reveal of that particular subplot came straight out of left-field and made me go 'huh' rather than 'a ha!' If it was a mystery for the reader to try and solve, I believe Tonya Hurley made it just a little too obscure.

Barring that, all of the elements that made Ghostgirl so quirky and such a joy to read were still present, and supplemented by Scarlett and Damen's wonderful subplot. I thought the resolution to this was extremely sweet and worked extremely well with the rest of the story.

Again, the greatest pleasure I got from reading Ghostgirl: Homecoming was the wise little snippets that accompanied the start of each chapter. Here is one as an example:

"Most hope is false if you think about it. It's a belief that an outcome will be positive despite evidence to the contrary. But where would we be without it? It's the mind's compass and the heart's buoy, which we cling to as we wait for help to arrive. Without hope, life is sink or swim, and Charlotte hoped she would find a way to swim."

I would recommend Ghostgirl: Homecoming to those who think Buffy crossed with The Corpse Bride would make for an entertaining idea. It is charming, kooky and deliciously noir. Plus, my beautiful hardback edition has purple-edged pages - win!

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