This magical adventure story for children introduces a truly original heroine and invites young readers to forget what they already know about ghosts and monsters and witches.
Corpse is an unlikely hero for any story. She is a ghost who lives in the virtually deserted town of Elston Fright, whose only other inhabitants are three menacing witches and a furry spider called Simon – Corpse’s only friend. She is brilliantly resourceful, and constructs herself a body by mimicking spells from witches in order to bring together everyday objects and pieces of flotsam and jetsam into shapes that barely resemble body parts.
Corpse is consumed by questions about her existence. She remembers almost nothing of her life and, in death, has to fathom why there are so few other ghosts around and why she appears to be trapped on the tiny island that she calls the-rock-that-doesn’t-exist. When she learns that the treasure sought by the witches might unlock some of her own secrets, Corpse becomes determined to find it for herself first.
The originality of this story will really challenge readers’ imaginations. Characters are deliberately different from those that usually feature in generic ghost stories. The witches – all men – are deliciously evil. Other monsters are genuinely frightening but also strangely vulnerable and are sometimes so unlike anything readers would have encountered in other stories that it is difficult to conjure just what they look like. This imaginative scope adds to an enjoyably spooky feel, which is complimented by an unpredictable narrative that meanders about the maritime location.
The world Carter creates is dark and menacing and will be enjoyed by any fans of Gaiman or Riddell. Yet, even in the deepest and darkest corners of the story, a bright light of hope shines brilliantly. Other-worldly creatures like formless ghosts and desperate witches need friendship just as much as anyone, and Corpse’s brave acts of kindness make this debut book stand out as much more than just another ghost story.