Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! I hope you all had a safe and spooky Halloween!! I went to class (and took a stats test) dressed up as Columbia from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (in the pajamas and the Mickey Mouse ears), so that was a lot of fun, even though I didn’t see a bunch of other people dressed up. I guess most of the Halloween festivities happened over the weekend. Oh well.
I picked this book up on a whim while scrolling through the books on my Libby wishlist to see what was available. The cover was already eye-catching (no pun intended), but I didn’t expect for I Am the Ghost in Your House to hit as hard as it did—stunning prose and a poignant, strange story to match.
Enjoy this week’s review!
Pie and her mother have been on the run for their entire lives. They are both invisible—Pie born and her mother turned as a teenager—and have been living in other people’s houses all across America. Their lives are constantly transient, and although Pie has lived in many places, she doesn’t have a place to call home.
When her mother disappears, possibly dead, Pie is left alone. Sheltering in Pittsburgh with a group of art students, she goes in search of her missing mother and a girl she once loved. But if the girl Pie loves can never see her, how can they be together?
TW/CW: kidnapping, off-page sexual assault (past), substance abuse, absent father
For a book I picked up almost purely on a whim, this was such an emotional hard-hitter. From this alone, I’m absolutely going to seek out Moore’s other books—I haven’t read such fantastic, immersive prose in ages, and through Pie, Moore has created a truly unique protagonist and a strange world paired with her.
Moore’s prose is what stood out the most to me about I Am the Ghost in Your House. Magical realism is a hard genre to get right, and writing prose that fits with it can be half the battle, and it’s a battle that Moore absolutely won; their weaving of delicate metaphors into Pie’s voice created such a distinct atmosphere around the whole book, as though we too were nestled in lonely train cars, unable to be seen by anyone but our own kin. I read this on my Kindle, and I highlighted so many passages—Moore’s prose rarely faltered, and it was the perfect vehicle to carry this story.
The worldbuilding behind invisibility in I Am the Ghost in Your House was incredibly thought out as well! With magical realism novels like these, it’s sometimes okay to have changes to a world with little to no explanation—it adds some ambiguity to the story, and if it’s done well, it can add a charm and mystery to the world. Moore, however, has done the opposite. Without infodumping or rambling excessively, they define so much about invisibility, its origins, and more importantly, its limits, in terms that make something so fantastical seem so authentic. It feels like the kind of story that stemmed from a conversation—what would you do if you were invisible? Where would you live? What would you get away with, knowing that nobody’s watching?
Pie herself, however, was what made this novel so emotional and poignant. There’s an intense loneliness to her; after her mother disappears, she has nobody, since her father left her before she was born. Moore’s prose shapes a character with seemingly ordinary struggles—unrequited love and general uncertainty, among other things—into someone so deeply isolated, someone fighting alone, since only a handful of people can even see her in the first place. But as she develops, meeting other people and coming to terms with truths about her family, she finds closure in solace in knowing that she’s never been alone, being able to communicate with visible people and knowing that there are others out there like her.
My only problem was the paranormal investigator subplot. In contrast to how smoothly and deliberately most of the book moved, this spot near the end felt rushed and unfinished, thrown in at the last minute to add conflict where there didn’t need to be. Since it was crammed in the last 20% of the book or so, it didn’t feel like it had any place, other than providing a little more worldbuilding details on invisibility. Given what happens to Pie, the suddenness almost feels genuine, but it seemed to come more from a place of rushed writing than actual feeling.
All in all, a bittersweet and atmospheric piece of magical realism that never falters in its deeply emotional core. 4.25 stars!
I Am the Ghost in Your House is a standalone, but Mar Romasco Moore is also the author of Some Kind of Animal and the anthology Ghostographs: An Album.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!