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The Ghost Collector

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  337 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Ghosts aren’t meant to stick around forever…

Shelly and her grandmother catch ghosts. In their hair.

Just like all the women in their family, they can see souls who haven’t transitioned yet; it’s their job to help the ghosts along their journey. When Shelly’s mom dies suddenly, Shelly’s relationship to ghosts—and death—changes. Instead of helping spirits move on, Shelly star
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Annick Press
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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  337 ratings  ·  94 reviews

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Mel (Epic Reading)
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-netgalley
This middle grade book handles death in an elegant, yet realistic way. I love how the lead gal feels everything is unfair. Just like most kids (and let’s face it us adults too) feel when bad things happen. To complicate things further our lead teen is able to see ghosts and 'collect' them just like her Mother and Grandmother (who lives with them). Therefore when an important person in her life dies she looks and hopes for their ghost to come to her.

“Nobody wants to admit that death is some
Sarah Lillian Books
What a heartfelt middle grade book about grief, belief, death, and moving on. This is one of those books that anyone at any age can read it and get something out it, which I admire Mills for doing. There are so many wonderful hard lessons for anyone to learn. For example, life goes on after experiencing death of a loved one, and we are all people, even our parents. I, myself, have learned recently that your parents are just people and not perfect, superheroes as you thought as a kid. I so relate ...more
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-2019
You can read my full review on my blog, The Writerly Way, here.

Many thanks to Annick Press and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

I don’t read as many works inspired by American Indian or First Nations cultures as I’d like, so when I saw this, I jumped on it immediately. Mid-grade has been so hit or miss for me lately, because I’ve found a lot of it just ends up being too young for me. What?! I hear you say. You, who’s nearly 30, are now too old for mid-grade?!
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
At 186 pages, this middle grade novel featuring sixth grader, Shelly and her ghost hunting Grandma kept me quite enthralled.

If you carry your ghosts in your hair, you can cut them off when you don't need them anymore. Otherwise, ghosts cling to your skin, dig their fingers in under your ribs, and stay with you long, long after you want them gone.

Although Shelly's mother disagrees with Shelly's grandma taking her daughter along on these ghost experiences, Shelly is learning what all the Cree W
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
4 ⭐️

this was a sweet and poignant book about grief that’s honestly everyone of all ages should read. it’s written by a cree author and she tells the story of a cree family. it’s so nice we get to see this kind of representation in children’s literature. and obviously bc this is written by a cree woman, aspects of her culture aren’t written in like many white authors try to do when they’re asserting “yes this is a poc!!! look at their almond eyes!!! their caramel skin!!” and other unnecessary and
I love the imagery of this book. Shelley and her grandmother use their hair to catch ghosts and release them so they can go on to the next world. Sometimes ghosts get stuck. Birds die flying into buildings, and then haunt the buildings. Rats die, and aren't sure where to go, and cause a fuss. Most ghosts that Shelley and her grandmother find are animals and just want to go home.

They do not take very ghost they see, such as the ones in the cemetery. Shelley's mother objects but lets them do it, a
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
this book was so fabulous and i’m glad it’s in this world for kids to get spooked by. i have to admit i was biased to like it bc GHOSTS but also the writing is fantastic and it gives my heart a thrill to read good writing in middle grade as well as a good story. this is really more of a 4.5 for me, the only thing that holds me back from a 5-star was it could be a bit too on the nose sometimes. but what a good concept and execution and WOW i want to meet allison mills she seems super cool and i a ...more
 Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri
A glorious story, simultaneously heartwarming and heartwrenching, about 3 generations of an indigenous Canadian family (Cree) living an embittering life in a city. Grandma and granddaughter Shelley see and communicate with ghosts, helping them to move on. Shelley's mother wants no part of that. But unexpected tragedy impels Shelley to use her gift overtime, collecting ghosts to herself to ease their loneliness--and hers. THE GHOST COLLECTOR is a truly beautiful novel. ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'She walks around town and looks for the dead in dark corners and forgotten places. She snatched ghosts from alleyways and buildings and takes them home to hide in her room. She rescues them.’

This is a book about a girl who not only sees ghosts but catches them and sets them free so that they can go ahead to the afterlife, whatever outcome that is. That is a gift passed down in her family and she learns it from her grandmother who is known for her expertise ghost catching. To make this even bett
Kathleen Bergen
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Ghost Collector is a sweet, sad, heartfelt story. I read it all in a single sitting. The Cree folklore was quite fascinating- it's a take on ghosts and ghost catching I had never encountered before, probably because I'm not too familiar with Cree folklore and mythology. The music throughout the story was a great way to set the mood (it helped that it was all music that I quite enjoy). My ARC came with a spotify playlist and I highly recommend going and checking that out.
I definitely got tea
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My heart hurts after reading this debut novel - it was one of those books that came into my life at the exact moment that I needed it. What I thought was going to be a spooky middle-grade story about ghost hunting actually turned into a book about losing a parent and the grieving that comes along with it.

My dad passed away (2 weeks ago today as I write this) and my heart is still shattered. This author was able to perfectly describe most of my feelings in a way I haven't been able to articulate.
Stacy Renee  (LazyDayLit)
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Shelly has a special gift passed down through the women in her family that allows her to not only see ghosts but also catch them in her long hair. Her grandmother taught her how to catch the ghosts, appease them, and send them on their way to pass on.

When Shelly's mother dies in a car accident, she is sure she will be able to find her and bring her home but no matter where she
Rebekkah Patriarche
This book was sweet but a little uneven for me. Some of the ideas about ghosts were really interesting or descriptive, which made the more bland interactions stand out in a bad way. There were some really well done descriptions of Shelley’s experience of grief that highlighted for me how stilted a lot of the description of her experience in school was. I guess it was a bit like the author was caught between trying not to “tell” too much, and get detailed or figurative in describing Shelley’s int ...more
Nov 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: younger
This was an ok book. I liked reading it and it kept me interested. But it didn't pull me in. Great for passing time and just for something to read. Interesting characters, I loved the plot and the creativity that went into writing this. It was written well, but not exactly my cup of joe. To each their own. ...more
Avi Grundner
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure, I know Allison - We worked together a couple of summers ago. But my review and rating are honest reflections of what I thought!

This story was honest, beautiful, and incredibly moving. And I can't say anything more without spoilers.

(view spoiler)
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Brief thoughts originally published 8 January 2020 at Falling Letters.

I Can Make This Promise and The Ghost Collector each feature a girl with special talent, albeit one that is more supernatural than the other. Shelley catches ghosts in her hair. She and her grandmother help them move on to where they’re supposed to be. Mostly, Shelley helps with animal ghosts. When Shelley’s mom dies suddenly, Shelley’s grandmother has to take on more work to support the two of them. She leaves Shelley to
Liana Grace
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids
Super cute story for middle graders that will make you smile and likely cry. I loved the references to The Cure and The Smiths, which I’m sure all the kids won’t get.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The idea behind the story was intriguing which is why I requested the advance reading copy, but it was very disappointing style-wise. It felt like I was reading a very early draft. I did not finish this.
Nicole Smith
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katrina Forest
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills pulls off a child protagonist with an extraordinary ability who is also extraordinarily authentic. Shelly, like her grandmother, is able to connect with ghosts, talk to them, and carry them from one place to another using her hair as a vehicle. Her natural curiosity about them, coupled with her desire to take on jobs like an adult makes the supernatural element so matter-of-fact and effortless. I never thought I could read a story about a character bringing a ...more
Laura Gardner
Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelly is Cree and lives with her mother and grandmother. She is interested in carrying on with her grandmother’s family business of ghost collection and extermination, which her mother has rejected as a career option. Shelly in particular, is tasked with catching ghost animals in her hair and releasing them outdoors when they can more easily move on to the next stage. Shelly’s grandma deals with the more complicated cases. Shelly’s mother disapproves of Shelly going along on the ghost collectin ...more
Storytime With Stephanie
A marvelous new story with so much heart. The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills delves into big feelings of grief and loss and how we cope when those things hit close to home.

Shelly’s grandmother is a ghost collector, she helps the ghosts of people and animals that get stuck behind, it’s a family business. Grandma, Shelly’s mom and even Shelly herself all have the ability to see ghosts and help them along their journey. Shelly loves helping Grandma help the ghosts in their community. Grandma is p
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelly and her grandmother catch ghosts with their hair. How do you catch ghosts with your hair? Shelly and her mom live with grandma. Shelly and her mom do things her grandma would not approve of but its their secrets. When Shelly and grandma get news that her mom is dead due to a car accident, Shelly can’t believe it. When Shelly “gets it,” she expects her mom to show up to her as a ghost. She doesn’t know why she hasn’t seen her mom’s ghost. She goes and asks ghosts if they have seen her mom. ...more
Kate Waggoner
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-read
Thank you to NetGalley and Annick Press for the review copy of The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills. All opinions are my own.

Shelly's family is able to do something extraordinary. Not only can she, her mother, and her grandmother see ghosts, but they're able to catch them in their hair. Shelly and her grandmother capture ghosts in their hair and help them move on. Shelly's mother though has never really been a fan of spending time with ghosts and attempts to keep Shelly from helping her grandmo
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So so lovely. Allison Mills captures grief with great tenderness as Shelly learns how to let go. Details were sparse to focus on plot, and the third person narration almost made me feel like a ghost myself witnessing Shelly's process. I loved the idea of Shelly and her grandma catching ghosts in their hair (amazing imagery). Astutely touched on serious topics like class and stereotypes about indigenous spirituality in ways that make sense for kids. Greatly appreciated the commentary on capitalis ...more
Tales Untangled
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is such a different ghost story! The author's great-grandmother told her stories which led to this tale - and I'm glad she did.

The Ghost Collector is not a haunting tale in the sense of giving you chills, but a tale of how our lives might be haunted. Haunted with grieving.

Shelly has inherited her family's ability to catch ghosts in her hair and to help them along. She can catch the ghosts of animals as well as people. When her mother dies, it's only natural that Shelly would expect to have
I don't exactly recall how this book ended up on my TBR -- I think after The Only Good Indians, I found some recs on Twitter for other books by Native authors, and Allison Mills's middle grade book came up? That seems likely.

This being maybe the second or so modern MG book I've read, my frame of reference may not be adjusted appropriately for what an MG book can deal with, but I'll say this:

At less than 200 pages, this is a pretty quick read, where sometimes whole chunks of time are summed up or
Michelle Mallette
Nov 23, 2019 rated it liked it
See my full review here.
Like all the women in their family, Shelly and her grandmother can see ghosts. And they can catch them. In their hair. Once caught, the ghosts can be set free and sent on their way, to wherever it is they are supposed to be. Sometimes the ghosts are in a house, sometimes they are animals, and sometimes they are quite happy to stick around. Shelly loves joining her grandmother on a ghost job. Grandmother says you can’t free them till they are ready to go, but often a cup o
Jan 05, 2021 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carter Skye
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
After losing her mother unexpectedly, Shelly begins to hoard ghosts. A gift that has been passed down through generations of women in her family, Shelly has the ability to see ghosts, catch them, and help them move on. When she realizes that her mother has not come back as a ghost, she can't let the other ghosts go.

The Ghost Collector was a beautiful story of a girl who has spent her entire life dealing with death, only to realize that it's so much different than she realized once she's lost so
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“Little Shell,” says Joseph, before Shelly can leave to follow Estelle. “You’re not dead yet.”
Shelly shivers. She likes Joseph, but she doesn’t like the yet. “I know.”
Joseph shrugs. “Just wanted to make sure you did. I like you. Don’t want to watch you fade away.” He slides his headphones on and leans back to look at the sky again.”
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