She Is A Haunting is a young adult horror novel that combines romance with haunted house horror and colonialism, as a Vietnamese American girl on the brink of going to college faces a building her family has history with. Jade doesn’t feel like she’s anything enough, has fallen out with her best friend, and wants to tell her mum she’s bisexual, if it wasn’t for the worry of how her mum will react. When her and her younger sister stay with their estranged father in Vietnam for the summer doing up an old French colonial house into a guest house, Jade is meant to be dealing with it, but instead, the house seems to be warning her and things feel very wrong. Her sister and dad don’t believe her, so with the help of Florence, who Jade has just met, she sets about making the house seem haunted, but the house has other plans.
The book is told from Jade’s point of view, with interjections focusing on the house, and you don’t quite know what is going on. There’s ghosts, there’s a romance with Florence, there’s Jade managing all her anger and family issues, and there’s a lot of dead insects around. Jade has plenty of complexity, a teenager about to go to college who has to face up to how she feels whilst also dealing with a haunted house with a dark past, and it’s interesting how she sees the other characters, particularly her dad. The story is tense and is creepy, with a claustrophobic feeling and a scary sense of not knowing if you’re in control of your own actions, though the ending doesn’t feel quite a resolution.
Queer horror is a great genre and She Is A Haunting combines a coming-of-age, caught between cultures story with an unsettling ghost tale that explores how a place can turn people against each other. For a young adult book, this is genuinely a pretty spooky horror novel that has very menacing undertones and some creepy bug moments.
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