Helen Grant – Ghost

Langlands House is haunted, but not by the ghost you think … 

Augusta McAndrew lives on a remote Scottish estate with her grandmother, Rose. For her own safety, she hides from outsiders, as she has done her entire life. Visitors are few and far between — everyone knows that Langlands House is haunted. 

One day Rose goes out and never returns, leaving Augusta utterly alone. 

Then Tom McAllister arrives — good-looking and fascinating, but dangerous. What he has to tell her could tear her whole world apart. 

As Tom and Augusta become ever closer, they must face the question: is love enough to overcome the ghosts of the past? 

I’m a huge Helen Grant fan. I love her work and her heroines are always amazing. As she always incorporates where she lives in her work, previously Germany and Belgium, I was really looking forward to seeing how her moving to Scotland would inspire her work. Especially as I’ve seen moody and slightly eerie photos of overgrown castles and graveyards pop up on her social media feeds a lot. Thus, when Ghost was announced and I was offered a review copy, I was super excited to say yes. And oh boy, did Helen deliver on the expectations set by those pictures I’d been seeing. Because Ghost? It is all about the Gothic. 

If you like the nineteenth-century gothic, this is an updated version of that story. It has all the brooding, gloomy, understated sense of dread that pervades works such as Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Yet Ghost is set in a more modern era, with a modern set of complications. Throughout the story I kept hoping that all would be well, but still feeling as if the rug would be pulled from under me. This balancing act is something that Grant does very well and which is one of her trademark elements in her work. 

It is hard to discuss specifics of the story arc without giving away the plot, but it is fascinating. Suffice it to say the novel is at its core a search for answers and for belonging. Augusta wants to know why her grandmother did what she did, what happened and where are her parents? In fact who are her parents? And is Rose evil because of what she did? Augusta needs to come to terms with her feelings of anger and grief towards her grandmother. She also needs to deal with her feelings for Tom, which would have been difficult for any teenager that falls in love for the first time, but in the case of Ghost and Tom becomes extra complicated due to Ghost’s unfamiliarity with the outside world. 

My favourite thing about the novel was its heroine Augusta, also known as Ghost. She was a great mixture of sulky teenage girl and gritty, resourceful young woman. I loved how Grant developed her and how it isn’t clear whether she is completely stable and coping with her new reality or whether she is an unreliable narrator.  

Ghost is suspenseful and dark, but there are oases of light, especially when Ghost and Tom are together. These moments left me so hopeful for Ghost’s future, which made the rest of the story all the more heart-breaking. Because this book? This book has the most gothic ending ever. It was perfect, but wow, was it dark. I truly loved Helen Grant’s latest and it’s a great first entry into her work if you haven’t encountered it before. If this is what Scotland does to Helen Grant, I hope she doesn’t move in the near future! 

This book was provided for review by the publisher.