A blog of endless curiosity
I love the way Anne Berry blurs the lines between genres in this book, it is a tense psychological thriller, full of magical realism and post-colonial outrage, and it is the drama of a family living in a stifling atmosphere of petty hatreds and arguments.
The book opens with the statement, ‘I am dead…I was murdered on a perfect summer’s morning.’ Lin Shui is an unfortunate Chinese girl whose murder during the Japanese occupation has cut short her life – but she can’t, won’t accept that she is dead.
Twenty-five years later, she is beginning to fade, and needs to find a host to continue her hold on the earth. Alice, the love-starved daughter of one of Hong Kong’s colonial officials, is hated by her superstitious mother, and is an annoyance to her sisters. She lives out her strange inner life alone, rambling about in Hong Kong’s beautiful and haunted backdrop. She is Lin Shui’s perfect host. At first the relationship is symbiotic. Alice needs a friend, and the reader yearns for her to find it in this strange ghost-symbiote. Her mother Myrtle is a horror, but she is a fascinating character, full of her own beauty and self-importance and ultimately, loneliness. By allowing each of the main characters their own say in the switching-narrator style of The Hungry Ghosts, she lets us glimpse into many egos, which both fascinate and repel.
Hungry Ghosts explores the darkness rotting at the core of the most outwardly calm people, family relationships, and the far flung places people will go to escape and find peace. Very hard to put down!