Ophie’s Ghosts by Justine Ireland

This book was provided to me by Libro.fm.

What a delightful and spooky book!

TLDR: If you’re anything like me, then you grew up on a steady diet of Goosebumps books and scary stories before bedtime, superstitions and witches, and the undying belief that ghosts are everywhere, even if you can’t see them. If you’re a kindred spirit, then this book is for you!

Ophelia Harrison used to live in a small house in the Georgia countryside. But that was before the night in November 1922, and the cruel act that took her home and her father from her. Which was the same night that Ophie learned she can see ghosts.

Now Ophie and her mother are living in Pittsburgh with relatives they barely know. In the hopes of earning enough money to get their own place, Mama has gotten Ophie a job as a maid in the same old manor house where she works.

Daffodil Manor, like the wealthy Caruthers family who owns it, is haunted by memories and prejudices of the past–and, as Ophie discovers, ghosts as well. Ghosts who have their own loves and hatreds and desires, ghosts who have wronged others and ghosts who have themselves been wronged. And as Ophie forms a friendship with one spirit whose life ended suddenly and unjustly, she wonders if she might be able to help–even as she comes to realize that Daffodil Manor may hold more secrets than she bargained for.


There are so many reasons why I loved this book! First, let’s talk atmosphere.

You know at the end of summer when you get that first wonderfully crisp whiff of chilled air, foretelling the changing season? The thought of reading spooky stories before the fire with a comforting cup of hot cocoa dancing through your head? That is how I felt when reading this book.

From small-town Georgia to a hustling 1920’s era Pittsburgh, we experience the world through Ophie’s eyes- which is a pretty unique view considering she can see ghosts. Everywhere she goes she spots them, ghosts clinging to the façade of their former lives or following their loved ones on their daily tasks. New to this whole ghost-seeing thing, Ophie is both fascinated and wary as she navigates her new life.

You see, Ophie’s life just changed drastically. Not only can she suddenly see ghosts, but she also lost her father in a traumatizing way, sparking her new sight, and she and her mother more or less had to move out of Georgia for Pittsburgh to start a safer life. Their crime? All because Ophie’s father dared to vote, and the locals did not like that. Something so nonsensical occurring as a fact in Ophie’s young life is so jarring for her and the reader as she tries to make sense of it all.

Ophie is so refreshing in how innocently but warily she views the world now, and it made me think that we adults could take a page out of her book on how we approach the world- warily but with eyes wide open and full of hope. Torn between naivete and maturity, life and death, warm Georgia and chilly Pennsylvania, Ophie sets her mind to the tasks at hand: work hard so she and her mom can afford their own place (and so she can return to school) and figure out how to help the “Haints”.

Through Ophie’s eyes, we experience 1920’s Pittsburgh in all its new age glitz and opportunity. If you’re a history lover, like me, this is another reason you may enjoy this book. The scenery is vividly described, and Ophie is awed and amazed as she experiences new sites and communities. The first time she ventures into an all-Black community was a high point for Ophie, and I absolutely loved following her thoughts as her young mind processed the differences in how her life has been and how it could be.

Always, full of hope.

Ophie is charming, smart, often wrong, and loves to learn people’s stories and try to help them. But she also has a strong sense of what is right and wrong, and with each experience this intuition grows in her, reminding herself of her daddy and the wise words he shared with her before he died. I loved this because even though her daddy doesn’t cling to life as a ghost, she carries her memory with him always. This creates a beautiful theme that weaves throughout the background of this book of Ophie learning to process her grief (and thereby help others process theirs and move on) and to reconnect with her devastated mom as they try to heal and move forward together.

And finally, I loved this book because of… the ghosts, of course!

I’ve always wondered at the prominent nature of White ghosts in modern folklore, at least in the U.S., but this book throws that out the window. Ghosts are people, therefore they are as diverse as the living. Soon Ophie learns her way around the mythology involved, utilizing iron, salt, and the color Haint Blue to keep herself safe- a bit of knowledge lovingly, but sternly, passed down to her from her elderly Aunt. I found this touch of history and the gift of heritage Ophie receives to be utterly delightful, as it parallels my own family and culture and that of many others, which highly values feminine strength and the importance of keeping alive knowledge that should be passed down from generation to generation- supernatural or not.

If you’re looking for a heart-warming story about a little girl being afraid but doing it anyway, with a splash of spookiness and spunk, then this book is for you. I hope you’ll read it and tell me what you think of the things that go bump in the night.

Published by francinewonders

Hi! My name is Francine and I spend a lot of time wandering about while wondering about stuff. I like to talk about cats, books, travel, and all things w@nderful. Follow me on Instagram: @francinewonders

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