Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist by David Almond and Dave McKean

The Blurb On The Back:

”I’ve got a poltergeist,” says Joe.

“What’s one of them?”

“Kind of ghost,” says Joe.

“Davie’ll know.  Davie?”

Joe Quinn tells everyone about the poltergeist in his house, but no one believes him.  No one, that is, except Davie.

He’s felt the inexplicable presence in the rooms and seen random objects fly through the air.  And there’s something else … a memory of Davie’s beloved sister, and a feeling deep down that it might just be possible for ghosts to exist.

A haunting story of the power of hope.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Everyone knows that Joe Quinn is a liar – his dad’s in prison and his mum is known for being dafter than Joe is.  So when Joe tells Davie and his friend Geordie that there’s a poltergeist in his house, Davie’s frustrated when Geordie takes Joe up on an offer to go and see it, even though Geordie’s really only interested in getting chips.

At Joe Quinn’s house, the boys see cups and plates flying about and although it’s clear that Joe and his mum are doing some of it themselves, Davie is unexpectedly troubled.  He thinks that he can sense a presence at Joe’s home and it’s reminding him of his younger sister, who died when she was just a year old …

David Almond and Dave McKean’s graphic novel for children aged 9+ is, like many ghost stories, a tale of grief and faith that’s pervaded with sadness that’s inspired in part by Almond’s own life. I suspect that the lack of a definitive resolution will put off some readers but this is an emotionally mature book whose illustrations have an otherworldly melancholy that resonated with me and I suspect would do so with the target age group too.

The introduction from Almond sets out the themes in the book by referring back to his childhood and how the supernatural world collided with the rise of science and technology with mankind’s trip to the moon and how despite the hope offered by technology, he still lost his dad and his younger sister.  The story itself is quite simple and really centres around Davie’s feelings as he starts to confront his feelings about losing his sister.  Almond leaves open the question of whether Joe Quinn really has a poltergeist or whether it’s a manifestation of other issues within both his family and Davie’s own life.  There’s a lot of discussion in the book about faith – notably through the scenes involving Father Kelly – and the conversations between Davie and his mum about his sister are very touching – all helped by Dave McKean’s customary stellar illustrations that are melancholy and stark.

This won’t be a book for everyone, especially given the lack of a plot resolution (even though the book provides an emotional conclusion) but I thought it was very moving and I think children would enjoy reading it.

JOE QUINN’S POLTERGEIST will be released in the United Kingdom on 7th March 2019.  Thanks to Walker Books for the review copy of this book.

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