27/40: Anya’s Ghost (by Vera Brosgol)


Anya’s Ghost

by Vera Brosgol

Published 2011 by First Second

Graphic Novel; Horror

WHO: Anya, a newly adolescent girl, Russian immigrant to the U.S., and outsider at her private school… 

WHAT: falls into an abandoned shaft…

WHERE: on park grounds…

WHEN: a hundred years after another girl had fallen into the same well.

WHY: The dead girl’s ghost seeks to escape the confines of the well…

HOW: by befriending Anya.

+ Anya’s Ghost deftly portrays the basic dynamics of seemingly complex relationships in the adolescent years: The desire for independence from your parent(s), the desire to disassociate oneself from loser friends, the confusion of friends who seem to be one thing at the start, but turn out to be something else altogether in the end… As such, this is a great YA selection for girls in particular.

Though the themes are common amongst both boys and girls, male readers may unfortunately dismiss this as a girl’s story. Also, this may not have much traction, as far as the story goes, beyond the YA level. The horror story itself doesn’t transcend the relationship themes.


+ The panels are rendered in a limited pallet of grey, blue and, purple washes with  black and white contrasts. The artwork uses just enough detail to provide the idea of texture and basic perspective. The illustrations are not realistic, but rather highly stylized and are nonetheless effective in conveying the characters’ moods.

+ One of the things that intrigues me about graphic novels is the way the artists can break free from the constructs of depicting time in a linear manner. In a book, one sentence must follow another and the only way to indicate that something else may be happening at or near the same time is to use words like “meanwhile.” Still, the author has to decide which event will be presented first.

In a graphic novel, simultaneous or near-simultaneous events can be splashed on the same page and convey the real-time of the story. In Watchmen (by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons,) two story lines were present on the same page by use of alternating panels and crossover captioning. In Anya’s Ghost, the moments before Anya falls into the abandoned well are inset on the full page, allowing the reading to intuitively understand that it all happened ***so fast***…

The first panel below (full page with insets) demonstrate the seeming simultaneousness of events that occur in the moment(s) before the fall into the shaft:


+ The second panel (below) shows the slowed down sequence events after Anya falls. The layout places events in a fairly straightforward, chronological way.


OTHER: I borrowed a paperback edition of Anya’s Ghost (by Vera Bosgol) from the Jackson County Library System, Central Library branch in Medford, OR.

I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

I challenged myself to read forty books this summer and made it! Reviews, however, have been slower in coming. I expect that it may take me the rest of September to catch up on that score! 


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