Saturday, September 29, 2018

Review: The Swallow: A Ghost Story by Charis Cotter

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. They develop an unlikely friendship, and 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.

 Hardcover, 318 pages 
Published September 9th, 2014 
by Tundra Books
**** 1/2

Polly - "There's no place for me. I'm getting squeezed out of my own house.  My parents want to save the world, and they're doing it one unwanted kid at a time."

Rose - "I don't fit in.  There's no place for me.  Not at school, not with Mother and Father, not in this new house, not anywhere."

It's 1963 in Toronto and these two 12-year-olds are searching. Where one wants to see ghosts the other wants to stop seeing them.  Where one wants to be alone the other is tired of it.  Such begins The Swallow and how could I not get draw right in. This story weaves back and forth to the voices of Polly and Rose, relatively short chapters making it a perfect fit for middle grade, also made it very easy to think, hmmm just one more chapter. 

It's been a while since I've read a really good ghost story and this one fit the bill.  While The Swallow is a story of friendship it is also a mystery and this reader kept trying to unravel what was going on.  Hats off to the author for keeping me guessing right till the end. 

I found the writing to be atmospheric, witty and suspenseful. Charis Cotter is a new author to me and one I will be reading again.
"When you see a swallow, it means that spring is coming, and with spring comes new life and hope."
The Swallow comes from my personal library and part of my 'reading my shelf challenge'

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