The Hungry Ghost, written by Helle S Norup, is a thrilling middle-grade, filled with mystery, suspense and ghostly apparitions, all set in my very own hometown of Singapore – what’s not to love!!! H.S. Norup has come up trumps again with another great book, following the success of her debut middle grade novel, The Missing Barbegazi.
When Freja arrives in tropical Singapore during the month of the hungry ghost festival, old spirits are said to roam the streets and families must make offerings to appease their ancestors. She’s homesick for her Danish hometown and isn’t sure she fits in with the ‘happy family’ of her father, her step-mother and twin step-brothers. But when a mysterious girl appears in her garden and beckons for her to follow, she cannot help but be drawn into an adventure that draws her into Singapore life and ultimately frees them both from the ties of long-buried secrets.
This captivating ghost story is not only a spine-chilling tingle of a novel but it also gives a wonderful insight to people who know little about the island city of Singapore’s, history and culture as well as giving them an exciting island-wide tour! It would be hard not to want to visit after reading this book. The settings are beautifully described and atmospheric, and the character of Freja, likeable, strong and believable. She is an energetic, adventurous girl and immediately draws the reader into her world and it was easy to end up rooting for her. The story is fast paced, yet it deals with sensitive issues of grief and loss in a careful and subtle way too, giving the book depth and a poignance that will resonate with many children and adults alike. The book is well written and skilfully crafted and since reading it I haven’t stopped recommending it.