All-ages graphic novel, written and illustrated by Jenna Ayoub and published by KaBOOM! in 2021. 

Our lead character is Willow, a little girl who has dreamed for years of having a home where she and her parents could live in permanently -- but her parents are both in the military, so they've moved from town to town for years. But now they've settled into a new home, the beautiful and historic Hadleigh House, and they promise this will be the place they're finally going to stay in for good. But when they moved in, they didn't know Hadleigh House was haunted

Luckily, the ghosts aren't evil -- they're won't be any re-enactments from "The Conjuring" movies in this all-ages, family-friendly comic book -- but they all lead to significant challenges for Willow if she wants to keep her new home. This is made more troublesome because Willow and her dog Fenrir are the only ones who can actually see any of the ghosts. Her parents can see evidence that they're there -- handprints on paint, eerie laughter and disembodied voices, the occasional bleeding walls -- but only Willow is able to talk to the house's spirits.

First (and worst), there are Gladys and Viola Hadleigh, two old women who are very attached to Hadleigh House since it's named for their family. They hate having living people in their house and pride themselves on always being able to frighten new owners away. There's Lady, a lovely young woman who cries frequently and pines for her lost loves (who she may have murdered). And there's Thomas, a book-loving soldier who died during World War I -- and who, mysteriously, haunts Hadleigh House despite never even visiting the place while he was alive. Oh, and there's a ghost cat that may be a spirit of diabolical evil -- or may be just a regular cat with an attitude

So Willow has to befriend these ghosts, convince them not to try to terrorize her parents, and persuade her parents that the house is haunted but still worth living in. Easy enough to do with Thomas and Lady -- but the Hadleigh sisters are much more stubborn and much more used to getting what they want. Will Willow be able to keep her new home? Or will the ghosts run everyone out of Hadleigh House?

Well, I enjoyed this one. Okay, I enjoyed it as much as an adult can enjoy an all-ages graphic novel with the audience pointed most directly at younger elementary students. There are a lot of all-ages books that are genuinely written so comics fans of every age can enjoy them. But this one is really going to get the most love from the younger set. I'm not the primary audience; that doesn't mean it's a bad book. 

One of the big things I enjoyed in this was the characterizations. Willow is adorable and smart and stubborn and kind enough to put in the work to try to get along with everyone. Her parents are focused on their daughter's well-being -- and also a consistent source of humor, as they just do not understand what's going on in the house and are plenty nervous about it. Thomas is the least crazy of the ghosts, though he also seems generally stressed-out about a lot of things. It's also really nice how much comfort he gets from books and how grateful he gets when he receives some. Lady is mostly a nonentity -- and it's both funny and really dark that it's implied she's murdered multiple people. And the Hadleigh sisters are just absolutely terrible people, both in life and death. They soften up a bit toward the end of the book -- but again, this is a graphic novel for kids, and it's going to err on the side of making friends with those who seem to be your enemies. 

And really, that last point is the book's biggest weakness. Because the Hadleighs are just awful. They're arrogant and haughty and mean. They're proud of how many people they've frightened away from the house. In life, they ran their brother, his wife, and his children out of the house so they could have it for themselves. The Hadleigh sisters had fully dedicated their lives and their undeaths to cruelty and rottenness. It shouldn't have been possible to make peace with them. A more realistic book would've ended with Willow calling the Ghostbusters on them -- or embracing dark magic to have both of them dragged off to Hell where they belonged. 

We can't forget art here -- Ayoub does a great job creating incredibly fun and absorbing artwork to fill out this world. The characters are wonderfully expressive, with simple lines used to create endless perfect, subtle emotions. And the architecture of Hadleigh House is beautifully designed -- and I wonder if its look is inspired by a real house Ayoub is acquainted with. Ayoub's color design on this book is also top-notch. All in all, it's a joy to read and look at. 

So yes, I have some quibbles with the book -- but again, I'm not the primary audience for it either. What I can tell you is that it's a fun graphic novel. It probably won't change your life, but if you've got a kid who's into non-scary ghosts, they will probably greatly enjoy it. If that lines up with you or anyone you've got in your life, you should probably pick this book up. 

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