Book: Ghost Wood Song
Author: Erica Waters
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBT
Release: July 2020
This was a highly anticipated read for me this year, and it did not disappoint! First things first. The cover. Absolutely frickin’ gorgeous. It captures the story’s intrigue and grit without being overwhelming or childish. I was swooning the moment I set eyes on it.
Secondly – the story itself. Ghost Wood Song is Erica Waters’ debut novel, classified as a young adult fantasy with LGBT elements. Couple that with an interesting book summary, and you get high expectations from me, myself, and I. Waters took my expectations, blew them out of the water and sent them to outer space, I was that impressed with this book.
Shady Grove is the main character in this story, a teenager who, like her deceased father, can summon ghosts with his fiddle. This inevitably leads to trouble down the road, but she must use these skills to help try to clear the name of her brother, who’s gotten himself into a spot of “accused of murder” issues. This is an incredibly atmospheric and gritty book, the haunting lyricism of the story winding a suspenseful and compelling tale that you just. can’t. put. down.
No matter how much we like each other, sometimes it’s not enough to want to be together.
The book is filled with nostalgia, music, and teenage angst that feels relevant and real, and doesn’t consume the story or become Shady’s identity. Waters drops solid advice and words of wisdom to the reader, which is relevant to ALL ages and made the book feel universal at times. That was probably my second favorite part of the book – the teenage elements were never the main focus of the story. They were introduced naturally, and pulled the reader along without taking away from the main plot.
Bluegrass lyrics are almost always about death, loss, and unrequited love, but the music – the noise we make with our banjos and our fiddles – is joyful. The dead are always with us, even after their ghosts move on, but it’s the life pulsing through our veins that makes the music.
My most favorite part of the story though was how central music was. As a musician myself, I was utterly absorbed in how thoroughly music was integrated into the lives of each character; it moved the plot forward in the best way, and it reignited my love of bluegrass with a fierce passion. Coupled with the lyrical nature of the storytelling and the vivid depictions of the environment, and it transported me directly into the story.
When it comes down to it, this was a solid book with a dynamic cast and imaginative setting. I would 100% recommend this to anyone interested in ghosts, music, and Southern Gothic themes.