A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts: A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales

Ying Chang Compestine, Author, Coleman Polhemus, Illustrator , illus. by Coleman Polhemus. Holt/Ottaviano $16.99 (180p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8208-1

Compestine (Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party ) pens a gruesome but delightful grouping of eight stories about so-called hungry ghosts—“the spirits of people who often died hungry, prematurely, and unjustly”—who return to seek vengeance. In one tale, Jiang plays up the fact that his modern inn is haunted (centuries earlier, the previous owner was murdered after being caught filling his dumplings with human flesh—à la Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd ), but things don’t end well for the ghost-seeking tourists who visit. In another, Chou is sentenced to death for accidentally killing his boss during a fight (“Chou raised his arm to block her blow. As he told everyone later, he had forgotten about the cleaver in his hand”), but when his organs are harvested, they turn the patients who receive them into murderers themselves. Compestine includes historical context for the stories and a number of recipes (though some readers may find they lack an appetite). The stories are laced with beautiful (as well as lurid) images and chilling illustrations of the ghosts and their victims. Like the ghosts themselves, Compestine’s memorable stories should prove difficult to shake. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/09/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
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