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The Girl with the Ghost Machine

Cover: 'The Girl with the Ghost Machine'

Staff Review: "The Girl with the Ghost Machine" by Lauren DeStefano


Emmaline’s father misses her mother so much after her premature death that he builds a ghost machine to bring her back. But in the two years he spends tinkering with it night and day, it still won’t work properly. Emmaline, frustrated by the way the machine has consumed her father’s life, attempts to break the machine by pouring her cup of tea into it. Then the extraordinary happens—the machine actually works! Not, however, the way her father intended. The machine uses memories to bring back a loved one, but once the time is up the memory never returns. Emmaline has to decide whether this extra time is worth losing memories forever. As she discusses it with her oldest friends, twins Gully and Oliver, a tragedy occurs which no-one expects.This story opens up very deep questions concerning power over life and death and leaves them unanswered. The events that take place in a way feel like parts of two different stories. It was enjoyable to read—yet, the way the plot shifted was not entirely satisfactory. There are a few very sensitive moments between Emmaline and the twins that seem to be part of a much larger story and I wish the author had been able to expand on them.

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

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