The Company of Ghosts
Written by Berlie Doherty
Reviewed by Abby Thayananthan aged 15
The Company of Ghosts is about a young teenager, Ellie who has run away from her home to escape her mum and stepdad, Angus. She finds herself in the hands of Morag and her kind family; who offer to show her their queer island, however she is abandoned on the island with Morag’s brusque brother, George. The first night is awkward and uncomfortable, but only when she is left all alone on the island does she realize just how much she loved his company.
When I first picked up this book, I immediately thought that I would not like it. I had never read a ghost book before and it was the opposite of what I would have chosen myself. As I started to read, it was incredibly haunting and creepy but also very engaging and I soon discovered that I was really beginning to enjoy the book.
Suspense was built gradually, perhaps the slightest bit too slowly, but every time I turned the page I could expect something creepy happening to Ellie. She is in fact, not alone and this is clear from the moment she arrives on the mysterious island. Ellie starting seeing shadows, and hearing footsteps. She feels ice-cold kisses on her face and the element of horror is really brought out by Berlie Doherty.
Ellie’s situation is truly distressing and as a reader we feel empathy and pity towards her. She is still quite young, and is suffering from the divorce of her parents. We learn that she greatly misses her father who moved away to Cornwall and her paintings symbolize a way of freeing the distance she feels from him, and make her feel closer to him. Her mother has married again, but she does not like Angus, and she cannot bear the idea of going on holiday with the two of them. On top of that, the one person she cared for, George left her alone on the island and only after days did he return for her. I therefore felt compassion and Doherty created such an interesting back story to her that we can feel nothing but that.
The language throughout the book is constantly beautiful and vivid. As her loneliness grows by the day, the pain of the reader grows, and therefore it is such a relief when she is finally rescued.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for something a bit different, or something exciting in general.