- Shadow Girl by Liana Liu
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-230667-8 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-230669-2 $8.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7-10
Upon arriving at the Morisons’ vacation home on Arrow Island to tutor their young daughter, eighteen-year-old Mei discovers their summer “house” is really a sprawling mansion; however, the Morisons’ marriage is floundering, their son’s in academic trouble, and Mei’s charge, Ella, is quiet and sullen. Unflappable Mei gets out her lesson plans, but Ella is only interested in talking about the ghost girl she insists haunts her room. Mei indulges Ella’s fantasy if only to get her to open up, but soon Mei is seeing a dark figure in the hallways and having horrible, blood-filled nightmares. Mei is a no-nonsense, practical girl, and her narration has an almost [End Page 121] cold straightforwardness as she navigates the Morisons’ strained family dynamics, calculating whose emotions she needs to soothe to keep the family peace and her position (which she desperately needs to pay for college). Once the ghost makes its presence fully known, however, Mei’s confidence quickly turns into panic, especially when the spirit is increasingly malevolent toward Ella, with whom Mei has become very close. In her few appearances the ghost is utterly terrifying, with black holes for eyes, a blood-soaked dress, and razor teeth; her sad history as the forgotten daughter of the wealthy Arrow family gives the girl some redemption, though, even as it adds tragedy. The story goes a bit astray in Mei’s romantic involvement with Ella’s brother, but the thrills eclipse the sighs; pair this with Bell’s Frozen Charlotte (BCCB 11/16) for a dark, chilling look at the wrath of rich dead girls.