The Swallow: A Ghost Story - Charis Cotter


Since we're on the topic of ghost stories this week, I figured this was a solid addition to the genre. While this is a much more complex and serious novel than The Elevator Ghost, I think the two are each delightfully eerie!

In 1960s Toronto, two girls retreat to their attics to escape the loneliness and isolation of their lives. Polly lives in a house bursting at the seams with people, while Rose is often left alone by her busy parents. Polly is a down-to-earth dreamer with a wild imagination and an obsession with ghosts; Rose is a quiet, ethereal waif with a sharp tongue.  
Despite their differences, both girls spend their days feeling invisible and seek solace in books and the cozy confines of their respective attics. But soon they discover they aren't alone--they're actually neighbors, sharing a wall. Polly is ecstatic to learn that Rose can actually see and talk to ghosts. Maybe she will finally see one too! But is there more to Rose than it seems? Why does no one ever talk to her? And why does she look so... ghostly? When the girls find a tombstone with Rose's name on it in the cemetery and encounter an angry spirit in her house who seems intent on hurting Polly, they have to unravel the mystery of Rose and her strange family... before it's too late.
Charis Cotter is a very talented author, constructing an environment and cast of characters that are ghostly, beautiful, and mysterious. Her compelling narrative--each chapter contains excerpts from the lives of both girls--will give you chills and get your brain racing as you try to unravel the riddle at the heart of the girls' relationship. 

Of course, no book is perfect, and while I found myself getting sucked into this captivating story, I couldn't help but wish it was a little bit less misleading at times. The opening chapters are also a bit slow moving, though they do work to set the tone and strongly develop each of the girls and their personalities. The two are truly melancholic and rarely move into the realm of happiness, or even slight amusement.

I enjoyed the macabre nature of The Swallow and feel that it covers a number of dark, though relevant, topics in a way that does not speak down to young readers. Cotter really does a great job of weaving together some very complex and enigmatic plot points to bring everything to a satisfying Sixth Sense style conclusion.

Highly Recommended

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