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Ghost Girl

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  67 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks, Ally Malinenko’s middle-grade debut is an empowering and triumphant ghost story—with spooky twists sure to give readers a few good goosebumps!

Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one.

It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: August 10th 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books
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Average rating 4.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  67 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book absolutely blew my expectations out of the water! I couldn’t put it down the second I picked it up (even though, if I’m being honest, I read it in the dark and DID get a little scared and had to put it down to sleep but) and I finished most of it in only two hours.

I love ghosts and paranormal and this middle grade was everything I would’ve wanted as a kid, it
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Zee Puckett, whose favorite book is Frankenstein, loves to tell scary stories. And the neighborhood cemetery is one of her favorite places to go with her best friend Elijah. Until one dark and stormy night when everything changes. People in town have begun mysteriously disappearing, and Zee is seeing the kinds of things she used to make up in her stories: large dogs with eyes full of blood, and ghosts, both friendly and terrifying. At the same time, there's anew, and creepy principal in town who ...more
Jan 06, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-books
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and I wanted to thank them and the publisher for allowing me the chance to read this book.

I went back and forth and back and forth about my rating for this book, but I think I finally landed on a 2.5 stars rounded up to a 3. There was a lot about this book that was clever and captivating but there was also a lot that just didn’t work.

As always, let’s start with what I enjoyed.

The writing:
For anyone who knows me well, the
Jessica Calla
May 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
GHOST GIRL is a fun horror-slash-mystery read, perfect for the MG crowd. The writing is superb and grabs the reader from the get-go, yet still manages to sound MG enough for a tween to read and enjoy. Zee is a wonderful, fully-developed (for her age) character, and I loved how she navigated her weird little town, and her not-so-perfect life.

I loved GHOST GIRL so much, and read it twice to appreciate its layers. Besides the horror/mystery plot, the friendship between Zee and Elijah, and the devel
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book.

If you have young readers who love creepy books, then you'll want to make sure this is on your radar for August 2021. Dark magic, ghosts, evil beasts, and wishes that don't quite come true will keep readers turning the pages to see what's going to happen next.

Zee and her older sister, Abby, have been doing their best to get by after their dad left six months ago to find work in another state. She likes hanging out in the cemetery
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a fun and spooky Middle Grade story. Perfect for those who like little mystery and paranormal read without gore and intense fear. Zee is very special. Unfortunately, she deals with bullying at school. She doesn’t know how to embrace her unique differences. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the story has lovely lessons of friendship, forgiveness, and self acceptance. The spooky factor is perfect for 5th through middle grade. All around a fun read even for adults.
Thank you NetGalley for
Teresa Grabs
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
I love middle grade ghost stories and Ghost Girl did not disappoint. We join Zee and her friend Elijah as they deal with what the world throws at them, the best way they can, by disappearing into one of Zee's wild stories. But when the new Principal moves to town, her stories seem more fact than fiction. Ghost Girl has the standard "I'm secretly jealous of you, so I will bully you" trope and a bit too many plot convenient elements, but it is an exciting, quick read. This book felt like Stephen K ...more
Jennifer Adam
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a fast-paced book perfect for readers looking for a spooky tale about ghosts, mysterious hounds, and a school principal with a sinister agenda. Woven through the quick adventure, though, are threads about navigating difficult family dynamics, looking past assumptions to forge true friendships, and finding your own way through the constraints of others' expectations. In order to save her friends and solve the mystery that haunts her town, Zee has to come to terms with her own anger, grief ...more
Dead Sirius
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thank you NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The book begins with Zee, a girl who loves horror and exploring creepy cemeteries with her best friend Elijah. She is picked on by popular girl, Nellie, for everything from her looks to the fact she is living with her sister and has no parents. But this beings to be the least of her worries when a storm comes into town, bring more than just a little bit of rain. Shadows and mysterious dogs begin following her everywhere
Julia Pika
Mar 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Thanks to NetGalley & HarperCollins Children's Books for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Ghost Girl follows Zee who is a creative storyteller, which does make her unpopular in school since her stories are considered "lies" rather than unique stories. She lives with her older sister who works her butt off to support the two of them while their father is out of town. Everything's pretty ordinary...until weird things start to happen. And no one believes Zee.

A very fun thriller/my
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, fantasy, juvenile
This was definitely an enjoyable read. It did take a little bit to build up, but when it did, things moved quick! Zee, Elijah, and Nellie were such real characters, with flaws and quirks. The author did a great job of fleshing them out and making them well-rounded instead of flat archetypes. I will admit to getting annoyed with them, but middle schooler can be annoying in real life, so it just made it more believable. The plot was also very good, definitely spooky. It wasn't overly-complex, but ...more
Phil Schuler
Mar 13, 2021 rated it liked it
First of all I picked this book from Net Galley because of the cover and I thought, just from that, it was a graphic novel. That being said I was pleased with it being a regular book. I wanted to like it more though. The characters were likeable but I would have liked it to be from Zee's point of view, maybe written as an adult looking back to childhood. I would have liked there to have been more ghostly encounters, maybe meet that boy from the library again. And, I did not care for the hints at ...more
Lana Price
Mar 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Zee (short for Zera) is a 6th grader in a very small town. She has only one friend, Elijah. They love to tell stories and creep into the cemetery when they hang out.

Unfortunately, Zee is constantly picked on by here classmates. They call her Zero, and a trip to a large library upstate, they begin to call her Ghost Girl because one of the girls catches her seemingly talking to herself. After the bullying goes too far, Zee takes it into her own hands and starts a fight with her biggest bully, Nell
Cynde Reid
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
On a stormy night in the local cemetery Zee spots something that will change her life. As she figures out what is happening in her town along with her best friend she also has to navigate the situation with her school nemesis. This book was brilliant from the start, I couldn't put it down. I immediately fell in love with Zee the main character, She has a lot of moxie and wit. She was spot on with her critique of the small minded, small town women she discussed. The book moved along at a steady p ...more
Feb 20, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-and-kidlit
I was excited to read this, but it wasn't . . . great. I did find Zera and her sister Abby to be appealing characters; however, I really had trouble buying in to the story on a variety of levels. For me, the weakest aspect was the bizarre transformation of Nellie's character. Yes, I get that popular girls have problems, too, and that far too often we make judgments about people without knowing their stories. But this doesn't explain the complete shift in Nellie's personality, which really underc ...more
Mar 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and Katherine Tegan Books for providing me with this early, digital copy.

Zee Puckett lives in Knobb’s Ferry, a small town with not very much going for it. Zee is bored by her town, she loves stories and often lives in her head, and she is hungry for some excitement. After a trip to a local library, Zee learns she can see ghosts and get a new nickname, Ghost Girl. This begins the adventures of Zee and her best friend Elijah, and enemy Nellie as their town is overrun with gh
Anna Kim
I'm reviewing an ARC of this book, which is set to be published in Aug., 2021.

I think this story will be fun for its intended audience. The biggest hurdle for me was the pacing of the plot. The beginning was difficult because the writing wasn't great. The dialogue and plot literally felt like someone completing a creative writing assignment. However, the quality of the writing got better towards the end and there were some genuinely creepy events and descriptions.
The story got a bit bogged down
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
“Good for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks” — SOLD on that description — and after reading it, I’d fully agree!

I really enjoyed this book. There was just enough spooky business to be genuinely creepy (even to a horror-loving adult) without going too dark for its audience of older elementary/middle school kids. Friendship, school drama, family issues, grief, ghosts, demonic hounds — excellent.

My only complaint is the overly simplistic solution and an ending that felt much too tidy, but whatev
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Note: I read this as a free eARC from Netgalley. Zee Puckett is a wonderful story teller. Unfortunately her grades and behavior are not so wonderful. She does have one friend Elijah who will go along with Zee and her hijinks. She also has a nemesis in Nellie. Zee knows she different but doesn't realize how different until a new principal shows up in town ready to make everyone's wishes come true. Knowingly, Zee sees through his charade and must use all her talents to save the town. This is a fun ...more
Reem Faruqi
Dec 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Ghost Girl is a charming read that I greatly enjoyed, though it did leave me with some unanswered questions. This was the perfect length novel for middle grade, but I wished there were more details in some parts. I did love the representation in this novel, with a boy dealing with body-shaming from his father and his mother having bipolar disorder, and the main character questioning her sexuality. I also enjoyed how this book addressed the double standards about boys/men and girls/women. My than ...more
Mar 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Such a deliciously creepy ride! Ally Malinenko has crafted a spooky MG story populated with characters you’ll root for. I fell for Zee and Elijah from the very beginning and was biting my nails as they tried to solve the mystery of the weird happenings in their town. Along the way they brave cemeteries, red-eyed hounds, and a sinister principal. They also battle everyday demons in their family relationships and their belief in themselves. A perfect mix of haunt and heart. Thank you to NetGalley ...more
Apr 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Middle Grade horror is the best kind of horror because the author doesn’t rely on violence, blood and gore. It’s all about the spooky elements. Ally Malinenko pulls out all the stops to scare the pants off her readers, using cemeteries, ghosts, demon dogs, and a new principal, dressed all in black except for a creepy red glove, who seems to have the town in a spell. Zee, Elijah, and Nellie have to find a way to break the spell and bring everything back to normal, but can they find a way to be st ...more
Jennifer Hottinger
Feb 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Frightening at times, but so satisfying to see the bonds formed between Zee, Elijah, and Nellie! Zee has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Will her unique ability bring the community together or are they held by spirits beyond their control for eternity?

So much more than a ghost story!! Wonderful middle grade novel!!
Jennifer Halbur
Mar 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
So glad the sun was shining as I finished this creepy tale! MG kiddos who love a creepy tale are going to LOVE this book! Thanks for sharing an ARC with #bookposse @AllyMalinenko @KTegenBooks @HarperChildrens
Mar 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a unique and mysterious ghost story.! This is rare since I usually figure out what will happen within the first 50 pages.
I am happy to report that nothing was to scary or nightmare inducing. I’m still scared of books found under beds (Harry Potter reference there).
Becky Abbott
Apr 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko is a ghost story, troubled kids fighting together to defeat a demon and one different and lonely girl trying to find her way I would definitely recommend this for middle grade readers wanting some horror in their reading.
Dara Yoder
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very cute, but spooky and twisty-turning middle grade novel! Kept me guessing! I loved this tale of Zee and her buds! MG kids will love it! Great, strong female lead character!
Jas Asbill
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
While there are many things to love about this book, the reality written in the worlds of the characters is what I appreciate the most. Zee’s mom has died and her father has had to travel out of town to find work to support them leaving the sister to raise Zee and provide what she can. Elijah has a dad who is having a hard time accepting him for who he is and a mom who can’t seem to pull herself out of a debilitating depression. At school, Zee struggles with being bullied by someone that turns o ...more
Melanie Dulaney
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Great horror story for those middle grade readers who keep asking me for scary and scarier! “Ghost Girl” will give them the spine tingles and creepy scenes that they want without the gore and overdone violence that they ask for, but absolutely do not need. Author Ally Malinenko uses well-chosen words to create images of blood-thirsty hound dogs, a demon in human form who feeds himself by sucking the hopes and dreams from the citizens in Knobb’s Ferry and also gives readers three tween heroes who ...more
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Ally Malinenko is the author of several the poetry collections as well as Ghost Girl and the upcoming This Appearing House both from Katherine Tegen Books. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and blogs at She can also be found blathering about Doctor Who and David Bowie at @allymalinenko.

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