The Swallow: A Ghost Story, by Charis Cotter, (Tundra Books), 320 pages
I’ve just finished Charis Cotter’s The Swallow and am in that good-novel afterglow—smiling and a bit teary and wishing I could read this book again for the first time.
On the surface, The Swallow‘s plot is fairly simple: two isolated girls who spend time in connecting attics meet and befriend each other. One can see ghosts; the other is fascinated by them. Cotter deftly manages to maintain an otherworldly uncertainty throughout the book. Is Rose, who can see ghosts, a ghost herself? Who is the malevolent spirit residing in Rose’s attic who seems determined to kill Rose’s new friend Polly? What is the story of the aunt Rose never met, the one who no one speaks about?
The above questions give you a taste of the sort of book The Swallow is. It’s an unsettling read that leads readers first one way, then another. But throughout the twists it has an inherent sweetness that draws readers to the central characters. There’s nothing maudlin: just two girls the reader grows closer and closer to as she tries to understand who they are and what the relationship between them is.
If you need to buy birthday or holiday gifts in the next few months for your favorite ‘tween, The Swallow is a sure winner. And I’d like to suggest you read it yourself before wrapping it up for gift-giving. You don’t want to miss the pleasure of this read.