Anya Borzakovskaya is just trying to fit in. Her family comes from Russia, and she has fought hard to lose her accent and try to make friends. She goes to the third worst private school in the state, and makes okay to bad grades. She has one friend, Siobhan, who likes to sneak away and smoke with her. She avoids Dima, the other Russian kid in class, because she does not want to be seen as nerdy or weak. Also, she has a crush on Pete, who is on the basketball team and dates the beautiful, popular Elizabeth.
One day Anya is taking a short cut through a field and falls into a well. Hurt, she finds herself trapped in this hole for two days. Also, there is a skeleton there, and a ghost rises from it. It turns out she is lonely after spending ninety years trapped in a well. She tries to befriend the ornery Anya, and much to Anya's surprise ends up accompanying her when she is rescued. Having a ghost as a friend ends up having some surprising up-side, Anya finds. But the ghost also seems to have some motives of her own...
This wonderful graphic novel is the creation of Vera Brosgol, a Russian-born animator and storyboard artist who works for Laika Inc. She has published the webcomic Return to Sender, but it has remained unfinished. This is her debut graphic novel, and it comes with some pretty strong endorsements with cover blurbs from Neil Gaiman, Scott McCloud, and Hope Larson. Brosgol's characters are sharply defined in terms of writing and art, and the black, white, and gray tones create a great atmosphere for all the interactions. She is especially adept at capturing emotions and conveying emotion and tone.
This strong debut has been well reviewed. John Hogan called it a "pleasant surprise" and wrote that it is "richly layered work that moves deftly from wispy romance to creepy chills with nary a misstep." John DeNardo was impressed with this "excellent" "ghost story that starts innocently enough, but gets creepier as the story progresses." Cory Doctorow added that "Anya's Ghost manages to be really sweet, really funny and really scary."
An excerpt, trailer and more are available here from the book's publisher First Second.
A big thank you to Gina for the review copy!