Title: The Ghost and the Real Girl
Author: Avery Carter
Publication Date: October 31, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQ+, Romance, Historical
Length: 124 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 4 Stars
“There was never a good night to rob a grave, but the night of a full moon was certainly the worst…”
When Sera is hired to rob a 200 year old grave, the last thing she expects is the ghost of Lady Clementine de Quill rising up to scold her for it. Though her world is full of magical echoes from a not-so-distant past, a ghost is completely unheard of. What’s more, no one else can see or hear Clem. Sera tries everything to get rid of her– selling the items she took from her grave, bathing in saltwater, even putting herself through a religious smoke cleansing from the Church of the Wheel. Nothing works, and Sera finally resigns herself to having a ghost follow her around for the rest of her life.
Despite their differences, a partnership begins to bloom between the streetwise gravedigger and the cultured noblewoman. Just as they realize that maybe they aren’t so different after all, Clem starts to fade, flickering in and out for longer and longer stretches of time. Sera begins to realize that with each time Clem vanishes, there’s a chance that she won’t come back. There’s only one problem: she can’t imagine life without her anymore.
Who says cemeteries have to be scary places?
The romantic storyline was handled perfectly. This is something I’m saying as someone who usually steers clear of that genre, so don’t let that label dissuade you from reading this if you’re the same way. The author did an excellent job of creating two unique, realistically flawed characters and giving them a ton of time to pursue other goals in life before the slightest hint of romance filled the air. Having all of those things established ahead of time made it much easier for me to understand why these characters ended up becoming romantically interested in each other. I loved this portion of the plot just as much as the rest of it.
There were a few spots where the pacing sagged a little due to how much character development and world-building the author needed to do. While I appreciated it later on, I did find myself feeling a little restless in that moment when the storyline slowed down and I wasn’t sure why. Keep the slow moments in mind as you read. I wish certain scenes had been sped up a little, but there is a payoff coming if you persevere!
I was impressed with the world building, though. It’s hard to create a complex society in a shorter work like a novella, but I was immersed in Sera and Clementine’s world by the end of the first scene. More details were released over time, of course, and I relished the opportunity to expand my understanding of where they came from and how their society had evolved in the few hundred years between Clementine’s death and Sera deciding to dig up Clementine’s grave.
The Ghost and the Real Girl made me yearn for more.