A startling, sometimes-chilling tale of mental illness and familial abuse.


The Boy Who Lived with Ghosts

Mitchell’s debut novel is an autobiographical account of a young lad in a broken home, living in poverty and surrounded by death and madness.

In 1960s England, 5-year-old John has already experienced life’s worst: He’s watched relatives die, suffered the abuses of an alcoholic father and contended with poverty—all while living in a dilapidated home. But it gets worse. John’s older sister, Margueretta, locks him in the cellar, where he believes something hides in the dark with him. As the boy moves closer to adulthood, he continues to fall victim to Margueretta, who beats him often and slowly becomes unhinged. The ghosts in the author’s book are metaphorical, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of this powerful narrative, which is both a coming-of-age story for John and a blistering chronicle of his sister’s physical and psychological torment of him. The novel also portrays more typical adolescent scenes, like John and his friend, Danny, trying their best to see girls’ knickers or a teacher answering male students’ anonymous and detailed questions about sex. But these plotlines work best as amusing reprieves—not from “that thing in the corner” awaiting John in the cellar, but from the reason he’s in the cellar in the first place. Margueretta’s behavior toward her little brother is despicable; she verbally degrades him, pulls his hair and spits on him. But as the story progresses, Margueretta is more and more terrifying. She starts hearing voices that tell her to kill herself, which she attempts to do with a bread knife. John’s life in a poor family brims with poignant scenes that are both bleak and tongue-in-cheek: John and his twin sister, Emily, visit Auntie Dot, who’s unfazed by either cat hair in the kids’ food or an unlabeled can, donated by church members, and its most unwelcome contents. But it’s Margueretta who leaves the strongest impression, and this is no more forcefully emphasized than when John, seeing his sister’s face during a psychotic episode, says, “Now I know what the Devil looks like.” The title suggests a ghost story, but a boy witnessing firsthand the onset and evolution of a mental breakdown is as bloodcurdling as anything supernatural, perhaps more so.

A startling, sometimes-chilling tale of mental illness and familial abuse.

Pub Date: May 30, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615793207

Page Count: 438

Publisher: Inclusic

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.


In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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