Freja arrives in Singapore during the month of the hungry ghost, when old spirits are said to roam the streets. She's struggling to settle into her dad's new, 'happy' family, and dreams only of escaping home and leaving this hot, unfamiliar city.
Then one night, a mysterious girl in a white dress appears in the garden. Freja follows this figure to lush, secretive corners of the city, seeking to understand the girl's identity. Her search will lead her to an old family mystery - one that must be unravelled before the month is over, to allow both girls to be freed from the secrets of the past.
"[Freja's] quest to solve the mystery of this unquiet spirit takes the pair into the thrilling territory of Chinese folklore and feng shui." -- Financial Times
"A gripping, moving, perfectly crafted story... one of my books of the year." -- Sinéad O'Hart, author of The Eye of the North
Average rating from 28 members
This is a really enjoyable quick read that had me gripped from the start. I loved the story, loved the characters and I loved the Chinese folklore/myth elements. I would recommend reading this book.
This was a super quick read and I did enjoy reading this one. I really liked the Chinese folklore element that was in this book, Thank you to netgalley for providing this book to me in exchange for my honest opinion.
Spooky, eerie; but full of heart and warmth, and bursting with delicious south east Asian flavour. This is an utterly engrossing ghost story, as well as a moving journey of grief and supernatural self-discovery. An international feast that I devoured in a single day!
I greatly enjoyed this story! The writing was beautiful and I really enjoyed learning more about the cultural folklore and mythology. This story is well suited for a middle-grade audience and I would recommend it as a great book to read as a class. It provides great opportunities to discuss cultural differences and also presents a chance to discuss family dynamics.
I loved it! Initially I was a bit skeptical but the more I read it the more the story and premise really grew on me. The ghost story part of this is extremely well done and it adds just the right amount of creepy as you explore and read on who the ghost is in relation to the main character. I also really love all of the asian folklore and really in-depth world-building that comes from it being set in Singapore. It really transports to another world and the characters are excellent as well. Overall, it's a really beautiful story.
Loved it!! Having lived there, I can confidently say that the writing really transports you to Singapore. I also loved how the protagonist is shown to have some struggles and diverse needs, although some trigger warnings should be included. Loved it!
The Hungry Ghost is totally different to anything I’ve read before. It’s a very cleverly written story that spans a wide range of genres - adventure, mystery, horror, historical fiction… the list goes on. I love the fusion of the old and the new and the cultural clash of modern Singapore. Norup has effectively threaded together so many different elements within this story. It would be enjoyed by pupils in Year 6 upwards. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.
I really enjoyed this book. I found the setting of Singapore to be really evocative and the author did a great job of immersing the reader in the sights, smells and culture of Singapore- its definitely made me want to holiday in Singapore! I found Freja to be a wonderful protagonist- she was likeable and complex, and her family situation and emotions surrounding that was really well handled by the author. Freja moves from Denmark to Singapore to live with her father and his new family. She arrives during the month when ghosts are said to wander the streets. Freja meets the ghost of a young girl and sets off on an adventure to find out who she is. I thought the ending was very touching and I will definitely be recommending this book to others!
What a delightful work! Reminiscent of Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away in book-form, the fusion of diverse cultures and spooky fantasy within Norup’s narrative is dazzlingly imaginative. Not only is Freja an entirely relatable character (experiencing the unfortunately common situation of a split family), but she is also the badass character (with a Swiss Army knife!) that we all want to be. Any children ages 8 and up who are hungry for an utterly transportive, fantastical adventure will adore this book! Thank you so much to NetGalley and Pushkin Press for the privilege of reading this work!
This was a good middle grade book that introduced kids to the Singapore culture, a subject I can’t recall seeing in other books before. A decent mystery for kids who like ghosts.
Thank you, NetGalley for this ARC. I think when people read this book, they need to remember it's a book for kids and not be overly critical. I found the story to be very exciting and fast-paced, I got scared at some point, but that's because I'm a scaredy-cat and I was projecting my very adult fears onto young Freja. Overall, it's a very engagging read
Freja has moved to Singapore to live with her dad and step family whilst her mum receives help for her mental health. She quickly notices a strange girl in the garden who is trying to get her dad’s attention, but it seems like he cannot see her. The Hungry Ghost discusses the traditions and beliefs around ghosts in Singapore. It was great to learn more about these traditions which I only knew a little about. I really enjoyed this book and learning about Freja and Ling’s life. I’d definitely recommend this for children aged 12+
A mystery book set in Singapore, where Freja meets a ghost during the Hungry Ghost Festival who might have a connection to her own family...if only she can figure it out. Freja is also dealing with her own problems; she's been sent to live in Singapore with her dad and stepmother and misses her mother (who appears to have suffered a mental breakdown). I enjoyed the book and think kids will enjoy the mystery aspect and fast pace. The tragedy revealed at the end (not something that happens, but rather memories of something that has happened) struck me as a little intense as an adult reader, but I'm not sure kids (without the same life experiences) would view it quite the same way. A solid middle grade pick!
It's a lazy Sunday for me, it's raining and I am under my blanket taking 2-minute naps to refresh my eyes so I can keep reading this captivating ghost adventure/mystery. I didn't want to stop once I got going. My head was literally buzzing when I put the book down because I was so invested in the story. Meaning, this is the perfect escape book. 12-year old Freja leaves Denmark to live with her father, her step mother and their twin boys, in Singapore. She arrives as the month of the hungry ghost is taking place, when spirits and ghosts of ancestors roam the streets. While she is struggling to fit into her new family, she spots a mysterious girl in white in her garden. The curious Freja goes after the girl, which creates a chain of events that makes Freja want to solve the girl's family mystery... And she has to do it before the month is over. Sweet, fearless Freja is on a mission to find out more about the girl. Dressed in her cargo pants, carrying her pocket knife and climbing down a rope to sneak out from her room, she is such a sweet little adventurer. She's kind and caring, and unstoppable in achieving her goal. But she's not too in your face ''different from the other girls''. She just... IS. The setting of Singapore, all the sights and sounds was very interesting, especially because we're told about the traditions and legends of the people living there. I personally found that it was very easy to follow and understand, so it makes for quite a quick read. It was delightfully spooky, but the spookish elements were just gently peppered into the story, so it's not to dark and chilling. I felt the payoff was great, especially because the resolution comes with a few emotional moments for our lovely protagonist. Last but not least, will you look at that cover? Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this gem.
I’ve visited Singapore on several occasions, so H.S. Norup’s book, The Hungry Ghost, was a welcome trek to a known and beloved place. It’s enjoyable to see Singapore through the protagonist’s eyes. Norup does a good job in her middle-grade novel of painting a picture of the Hungry Ghost Festival and how it plays into culture and customs. The book is written from the perspective of a newly inducted Third-Culture Kid (TCK) Freja, who is Danish and moves to Singapore to stay with her father and stepmother. I loved the TCK aspect because I’m also a TCK. While this isn’t the focus of the book, I noted how the TCK experience was woven in. “I’ve had sooo many friends move away. And I’m never the one to leave,” Kiera sighs. “I know people who won’t make friends with anyone who isn’t here long term. They simply don’t want to suffer the heartbreak.” “It’s just as hard when you’re the one who has to move,” Sunitha shifts her school bag from one shoulder to another. As a Third-Culture Kids myself, this quote, along with dialogue before and after, resonated with me. I enjoyed the historical elements and the mystery Freja works to uncover throughout the novel. I loved reading mysteries as a teenager, and I’m sure I would have enjoyed this. The book approaches issues of mental health, blended families, grief and loss. At times I felt the pacing could have been a little faster. The ending was crafted very well and was poignant. There is one scene toward the end that might be scary to younger readers. I received a complimentary advanced review copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and Pushkin Children's Books. All opinions are my own.
Thank you, NetGalley, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am glad that I picked this book up. It was a fast-paced, enjoyable read that hooked me from the first page to the last one. The events took place in Singapore, which was highly interesting, and the plot was exceptionally well done. The book was a mix of many genres: cultural folklore with mythology, adventure, and mystery. The story wasn’t particularly “scary” but decently “spooky.” I loved most of the characters, and I loved both Ling and Freja. It wasn’t easy for the 12-year-old Freja to leave Denmark to live in Singapore with her dad, his wife, and boys. While she struggled to cope with the new life and the new family, she saw the mysterious little girl in the garden, and the journey started. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, and I recommend it to everyone who likes the fast-paced mystery and adventure MG stories.
𝙍𝙀𝙑𝙄𝙀𝙒 THE HUNGRY GHOST Author: H. S. Norup #gifted by @netgalley in exchange for an honest review pub date: 21 Sep 2021 𝙎𝙔𝙉𝙊𝙋𝙎𝙄𝙎: "Freja arrives in Singapore during the month of the hungry ghost, when old spirits are said to roam the streets. She's struggling to settle into her dad's new, 'happy' family, and dreams only of escaping home and leaving this hot, unfamiliar city. Then one night, a mysterious girl in a white dress appears in the garden. Freja follows this figure to lush, secretive corners of the city, seeking to understand the girl's identity. Her search will lead her to an old family mystery - one that must be unravelled before the month is over, to allow both girls to be freed from the secrets of the past." 𝙈𝙔 𝙊𝙋𝙄𝙉𝙄𝙊𝙉: One of the genres I've been trying to read this year is children's fiction so I decided to give this one a try. It's a wonderful book and I really liked to read it. I loved learning about the bustling, beautiful country that is Singapore, and about its culture, traditions and superstitions, that play such an important part in the story. It was looking more like a 3.5 star read until the last 1/3 of the book,but I really liked how Freja's story was told and what we learned about her and her family. If you're looking for a book that includes SEA history and culture, as well as a beautifully written perspective on loss and grief and family, this is a book I think you'll enjoy reading. There's also a glossary for all the foreign words the author used throughout the book, which I thought was a lovely addition to include. 💬 This book was written by a white Danish author who lived in Singapore for some time, and although I liked it I don't have enough knowledge to know if it is a respectful perspective on a culture that isn't hers, or mine. If you are from Singapore or SEA, what is your opinion on this book? Is there something better written by an SEA author I should read? Let me know in the comments! #TheHungryGhost #NetGalley #bookreview
Freja, a girl who leaves her Danish hometown and mom, moves in with her dad and his new family in Singapore. Homesick and not wanting to accept this change, we see Freja struggle to fit into her new family arrangement, especially with having to accept Clementine as her stepmother. Soon, Freja’s loneliness washes away as she discovers and befriends a ghost who is visiting during the Hungry Ghost Festival. This was such an interesting read, especially for a middle grade book! I loved exploring all the sights, food, and culture in Singapore, and learning about their beliefs and traditions -- particularly regarding ghosts and the afterlife. (Reading about the hawker stalls and Haw Par Villa only made me want to visit Singapore even more now!) On a deeper note, themes of loss, family, friendships, divorce, grief, and adjusting to new circumstances are also explored -- which I found still to be digestible for younger audiences (amazing!!) Norup beautifully blends reality with folklore / cultural beliefs as she paints the vibrant adventures shared by Freja and Ling and between Freja and her friends. It was fun seeing Freja put her survival knowledge (which she learned from Scouts) to the test and use Morse Code to decipher messages. Although met with skepticism, it was heartwarming to see how everything fell together in the end with certain characters. The rocky relationship between Freja and Clementine was rough to watch, and while I can’t speak from personal experience, it seems like Norup depicted a realistic, yet hopeful outlook for the two. Overall, this is a wonderful read for kids (and anyone)! Thanks NetGalley and Pushkin Press, Pushkin Children's Books for my copy!
Thank you H.S. Norup, Pushkin Press and NetGalley for the digital arc of this book. The moment I started reading, I couldn't put it down. It was like, I was with Freja experiencing the spooky moments. I love the narration. The writing style is so immersive that the fiction totally transported me into the book. The plot is heart-wrenching and heavy. Of course, Freja and Ling instantly became my favourite characters. Both are not only brave but incredibly smart. As I read on, I felt their emotions, thoughts and angst against certain situations out of their grasp. Although this fiction is for kids, I feel, every age can read. This is brilliant and heartwarming. I will definitely suggest everyone to read this book. It is sure a must read.
trigger warning <spoiler> mental illness, death, grief </spoiler> Freja moves in with her father, and that means to Singapore. It could be exciting, if she would have decided to go there instead of being forced to - and if she hadn't promised her mother to never even like her stepmom. At least, she quickly makes friends. Freja arrives in the Hungry Ghost month: The month people mourn their dead, and honour them, both to remember but also to appease ghosts, because those could mean bad business if angered. Being only eleven, and very grumpy about being forced to leave her mom who needs to go to hospital, she did not do research on the culture she was going to be thrown into. But I repeat, we're talking about a child, so I find it both believable and excuseable, not like a book I recently tried to read about a person going to school in Japan for a year and not knowing anything about country and people. Plus points also for the depiction of school. Singapore is known for being very international, and so most of her classmates know how it is to be the new kid and having to make friends in a foreign place. They are nice. They welcome Freja and show her around. We don't get a bullying plotline because the author felt middlegrade can't be without, like so many other authors do. Freja's stepmom has a Philippina as help. This does not only sound realistic, especially for a young mother with twins, but also we get to see how Freja interacts with the woman. I promise you her name is mentioned, not even that, Freja quickly befriends her. I am just very, very bad with names, as I started writing this, I had to look up even our protagonist's name despite only finishing this yesterday evening. I am of the opinion that if you want to get to know a person, you have to see how they interact with people that would be considered of lower social status, for example, the people hired to do housework. And... I believe her name is Maya, is the first person Freja meets in the new-to-her household and befriends. It takes a while, but then the first few days Freja hides outside. Not having been a girly child, I appreciate Freja's love for all things outdoorsy. How she annoys her stepmom by going on a walk in the rainforest by herself, having muddy shoes, carrying survival equipment around with her. Being more comfortable in a forest, with a map and a compass, than in social settings where she is supposed to look nice and make small talk. The main chunk of the story is about ghosts, befriending them, how they work in this culture, and finding out more about the person they were in life. Ignorance about different cultures is so much more excusable in a person that young, and Freja does not mind learning. She comes with a preset idea of how the world runs, telling a boy that no, it's not the seventh month, we already have august, thank you very much, and is rebuked, being told that there is more than one calender on this planet. She learns, and the reader joins her, being entertaines all the while. Listen, I had fun. It reminded me of Black Water Sister for a younger audience. I would read this again, more by the same author, and more in a similiar setting. The arc was provided by the publisher.