I’m reading: Ghostly

On Christmas season, you might be overwhelmed with the sugary confections and images of the holiday, from gingerbread houses to mouse kings and sugar plum fairies. So I am recommending to indulge in a slightly spookier book: “Ghostly” by Audrey Niffenegger. I discovered Audrey Niffenegger and this book through ballet. The anthology editor collaborated with choreographer Wayne MacGregor in his first narrative ballet for the Royal Ballet, 2013’s “Raven Girl”. Having read “Ghostly”, I was less surprised with the universe created for “Raven Girl”, perhaps more so with its ending. The short stories span many decades and authors, including one by Niffenegger herself, satiating different tastes for thrills. Here is why I enjoy this particular book:

  1. Pulse. There is nothing quite like reading a story that has enough suspense, an unexpected twist in its plot and a controlled dose of fear. Ghost stories offer it all, and that is the premise of this book – to select some of Audrey Niffenegger’s favourite ghost stories. Replace that gingerbread house with a haunted one, the mouse kings with haunting cats and sugar plum fairies with ghost children. For greater effect, start reading at dusk only. 
  2. Prints. The editor is also a printmaker and has published four illustrated books so far. There is an odd feeling created by the prints that accompany the stories. They are small portrait sized one page illustrations in black and white, with minimalist line drawings and there is only one of them for each story (sixteen in total). In most the pencil makes use of slightly round lines rather than strong angular, sharp forms, lending the figures or scene a first welcoming impression. That is, until you notice the one detail that is slightly off in them, be it the eyes or the line of a mouth. And then they are pretty no more, you can almost hear a deep voiced laugh in the background and feel a new danger in those beautiful coppery lines from the cover.
  3. Authors. From Edgar Allan Poe to Edith Wharton, Rudyard Kipling and Ray Bradbury, there are more and less obvious choices in the genre. “The Beckoning Fair One” and “The Mezzotint” read like a writer-illustrator’s personal joke. It is likely that at least a couple of the authors will be an entertaining discovery to the reader, like Neil Gaiman or Amy Giacalone were to me.

Finally, should you be interested in peeking at the artwork beforehand here is the link to Audrey Niffenegger’s own blog post with an image gallery of selected artwork from the book, as well as the link to the publisher’s site:

Ghostly by Audrey Niffenegger at Simon and Schuster
Niffenegger’s selected images from Ghostly
ISBN: 978-1-5011-1119-8


  1. […] and conjuring strange creatures. Much like one carries on reading the ghost stories in Ghostly on a stormy winter […]

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