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Review: The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf


Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink, and the two quickly become inseparable.

But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive . . . before they are both lost to the darkness.


This was a wonderfully spooky read which, for me at least, was the perfect introduction to some traditional Malay folklore. I was expecting the creepy nature of the story, what I wasn’t expecting however, was to finish the read basically sobbing!! It completely broke my heart.

What I really, really loved about the story, was how real Jing and Suraya’s friendship felt. They were just unapologetically themselves around each other, more so Jing at first, but eventually Suraya too. The way they bickered and would tell each other to be quiet etc, it all felt so very genuine, as opposed to how friendships can be painted with rose tinted glasses in middle grade novels. I adored them both, and Jing’s undying loyalty to all things Star Wars had me in stitches for much of the book. 

There is a whole world of spirits and spooks to discover in the book, not least of all the titular ghost (or pelesit), Pink. I think my favourite part of the novel was Suraya naming him Pink, the most hilarious name for a dark spirit. I could never really tell how I felt towards Pink, which closely mirrored Suraya’s own thoughts and feelings. One thing I do know, I would most definitely not want to get on the wrong side of him!

The book comes with a bucketload of feelings, and is actually probably more heart wrenching reading as an adult, than as a middle grader. Suraya’s mums lack of interest in her was awful to read about, particularly whilst she was dealing with bullying and being haunted. However reading as an adult, you can tell that there is a little more to the story than just a mum who doesn’t care. The eventual pulling together of all the clues that are laid out just made me cry and cry.

A beautifully written book, that can be enjoyed by middle graders and adults alike. I’d say to tread with caution if you have a particularly sensitive reader. By no means is this the creepiest book I’ve ever read, but there are certainly some nightmare worthy moments. It was a wonderful read, and my only regret, is not picking it up sooner.

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