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From a Shadow Grave

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  76 ratings  ·  42 reviews
This is no ordinary ghost story.

Wellington, 1931. Seventeen-year-old Phyllis Symons' body is discovered in the Mt Victoria tunnel construction site.

Eighty years later, Aroha Brooke is determined to save her life.
Paperback, 105 pages
Published October 31st 2019 by Paper Road Press
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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Bonnie DeMoss
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
From a Shadow Grave is a short story divided in to four parts . The first part sets up the rest of the story. It tells of Phyllis and how she is murdered, buried alive by her boyfriend George after finding out she is pregnant.

The next three parts provide three different scenarios as to what happened to Phyllis. In the first scenario she dies and becomes a ghost, haunting the hillside where she was killed. In the second scenario she is rescued, and in the third scenario she rescues herself.

This b
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really loved From A Shadow Grave. Melancholy, sweet and thoughtful, with echoes of Atonement and of Gaiman at his best. A story about stories, and anyone who knows me well knows that those are what I like best. Highly recommended.
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel (Kalanadi)
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed the different parts, especially the last two, but the use of second person isn't my favorite.
Astonishingly complex for its length. Also, the first work I'm reading for this year's Worldcon nominations (in this case, the Sir Julius Vogel Award ones) that made my heart as full as my mind.

I greatly enjoyed that it doesn't allocate blame or dish out "good/evil" tags. It merely tries to see why we are as we are.

Some of the more filling moments:
Craig Sisterson
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this read - the crisp prose and impressive storytelling quickly set the scene and drew me in to the life (and death) of Phyllis, a teenager in Wellington in the years between the wars.

The author does a really fine job with this unusual novella as we experience the harsh life lived by an uneducated teenage girl as the Depression swirls, leading to tragedy and murder.

What follows is a fascinating look at three different scenarios that could have played out after Phyllis is hit
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2020
What a lovely little gem of a novella! In 1931 Wellington, a girl is buried alive and left for dead by the father of her unborn child. What follows in this cleverly constructed novella are three versions of what happens next - one in which she becomes a ghost, one in which a time traveller comes to her rescue, and one in which she saves herself. I usually avoid stories written in second person like the plague as it is an incredibly difficult style to pull off, but Buchanan clearly possesses the ...more
Beautiful story! I was transported into Phyllis and Aroha’s journeys. Buchanan's writing it hopeful and heartfelt - I felt Phyllis’s pain, hope and growth.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience reading this!

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Meagan Cahuasqui
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Totally weird but incredibly compelling story (or should I say stories?). What a wonderfully creative narrative that kept me thinking and wondering what the heck was happening. Full review coming soon
Leigh Anne
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
**I received a review copy of this book from BookSirens in exchange for an honest review**

Ghosted, in a good way.

Novellas and short stories are often harder to write than full-length novels. You get a lot less room to ramble: every word needs to belong, and further the action in some way. When done properly, it's a joy to read one. In "Shadow Grave," Andi C. Buchanan has properly written a great joy.

Phyllis Symons was attacked and left for dead. What happens next depends on your point of view. T
Anusha Sridharan
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booksirens, arcs
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Loved the way Andi has brought life to this book. A well written book describing of how Aroha Brooke wants to make the best use of her abilities that lies within her which others possibly can't trying to stop stop the past becoming the future.
I like how it starts - "All ghost stories start with endings" and each chapter is a transition that you are sure to notice. It's been a subtly different read.
May 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
“All ghost stories start with endings, but you are a woman, not a story.”

This book tells the story of the various possibilities a single event may go. The one factor that always remains the same is this — an attempted murder of a teenage girl on a hillside in New Zealand. Whichever particular path is the ‘truth’ isn’t quite the point in my opinion. Certain moments and people still fill in spaces along each timeline. It was both paranormal and a little bit sci-fi. Both things I tend to enjoy in a
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

When I first started reading the book, it was a bit of a struggle for me personally. I don't usually read books with 2nd person perspective, but this one I came to enjoy a lot.

When reading the synopsis for it I expected something different, but when reaching the end of the book I was pleasantly surprised and content with what I had read.

It wasn't like any other book I read and I enjoyed the direction the story w
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was provided with an advanced copy of the novel and I'm leaving this review voluntarily.

When I picked up this story, I was expecting to get just one story. Instead, the reader is told four. The first story is about Phyllis and her murder. The remaining three stories show different possibilities for how her story could've ended differently. I enjoyed the way the author crafted three incredibly distinct directions where the story could go. I also appreciated the time-travel and alternate univers
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this story. Living in Wellington it is a tale we hear snippets about that holds a grim fascination. From a Shadow Grave takes that tale and makes it about a real person, a person who deserves more stories than she had and who gets them in this book. I actually had to put it down when I first started reading it because I was in a bit of a delicate place emotionally. Writing that gets you in the feels like that is writing that hits the mark. When I picked it up again I inhaled ...more
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this paranormal novella. The story is told from the point of view of Phyliss Symons talking about herself as if she is looking on. The story follows Phyliss as a naïve seventeen year old who quits school and runs away to live with George. He kills her and the stories stem from what could have happened in four different lives. I received this book for free and I am voluntarily leaving this review.
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I picked this up based on a list posted on Twitter of notable Kiwi science fiction/fantasy in the aftermath of Worldcon 2020. A ghost story spun out in multiple directions starting from the murder of a woman in Wellington in the early 30s. Explores feminism, gender roles, and cultural shifts over time.
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of my NZ author recommendations from ConZealand.

A really good story, really well written.

I'm not 100% sure about the very last paragraph, but I totally get what's going on and was a very happy reader.

Highly recommended.
Gary Nelson
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful and introspective

A fascinating series of perspectives of what might have been, and how lives can be drawn together across time and (infinite) possibilities.

Refreshing and well narrated.
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Four stories in one. A ghost story with a difference from this New Zealand writer. A good read although the ending did not quite work for me.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I would give this novella 7 out of 5 stars if I could.

Set in 1930s Wellington (primarily), this novella was, for me, about possibilities. While the events of young Phyllis's life are harrowing and heart-breaking, this novella humanises and pays tribute to her beautifully.

This piece is written in the second person, which is not generally something that I support. (I find it tends to come across as pretentious and awkward). In this case, however, I found that it connected me to Phyllis's internal
Irene Mckay
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it
"People will say that you are just a ghost story". They name you not with your name, but with the site of your murder. You deserve more stories than you get." This was part of the chapter already gripping and found the whole story captivating. Even though its told that it is a ghost story, it entailed a different description from the title itself. Make you think. Good read.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Barbara Howe
Seventeen-year-old Phyllis Symons was murdered in 1931, struck on the head and then buried alive in fill from the excavation of Wellington’s Mount Victoria tunnel. That historical fact is the springboard for From a Shadow Grave, by New Zealand author Andi C Buchanan. This novella is divided into four chapters, with the first imagining what Phyllis’s life might have been like in a sequence of events leading up to her murder, and her shadow existence afterwards as a ghost. Our sympathy is drawn fo ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When reading any type of murder mystery or ghost story, you always hear the spooky beginnings of the ghost/victim, but never how they came to be that way. That was what I enjoyed from the beginning with this story.

Written mostly in first person, you find yourself learning about Phyllis Symons and her life. Moving along in her past you learn of her loves, dislikes, dyslexia and never ending need to wanting to feel good about herself after being told over and over for years she is stupid and slow.
Nicole Field
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: f-f
I didn't expect to love this novel so much.

I don't know what I expected, honestly. This novel is written in the 2nd person, and I almost always abhor that style of writing. And yet, from its very first sentence, this novel grabbed me in and didn't let go. Even when it confused me at the start of the third chapter, I was ready to go along with it, hopeful that it would make sense soon enough, trusting that it wouldn't let me down.

And it didn't. It didn't at all.

This is the story of Phyllis and
From a Shadow Grave is about Wellington's Mt Vic tunnel ghost - Phyllis Symons, murdered in 1931 at the age of 17. But it’s not really a ghost story - it’s a story about stories, exploring the what-if versions of Phyllis's life, grounded in NZ history mixed seamlessly with the fantastical. For a ghost story, it has a hopeful tone; it left me feeling contemplative but content.

Before this book, I didn't know much about Phyllis except that she'd been murdered and her body buried in the spill when t
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
From a Shadow Grave is a story about life and death in a way I didn't expect. It's a fun play on second person narration that I haven't seen in a while. Almost tiptoes the line to choose your own adventure until a certain revelation. Its paranormal elements didn't grab me until that point, so I'm glad I hung in there for it. Went back for a reread too.

Another aspect that I liked was that it includes WWII, but not in the "let me show off my research" way. Would have been so easy to go into the hi
Julian White
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an astonishing book, almost impossible to categorise: part ghost story, part morality/redemption tale, with a dose of time travel for good measure - I don't think that gives too much away - and a suggestion of alternate/parallel worlds. All of that fits into fewer than 60 epub pages.

The story is constructed in four episodes, the final three of which follow the events of the first. I'm not going to dwell on the story but it bears taking time to read and absorb what happens, rather than ru
Jill Elizabeth
Dec 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This one started out with tremendous promise, but it floundered for me a bit in the middle and never quite found its feet the same way again...

I loved the premise and found myself engaged in the characters lives (and after-lives) from the opening pages. When Ahora and Phyllis met, and things started getting unusual, I was loving the story and eager to see where things would go from there. Unfortunately, where they went became murky, and there seemed to be some jumps in time that I found difficu
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