Drop Shadow

Not Quite a Ghost

By Anne Ursu


From award-winning author Anne Ursu comes a dark, deeply-felt story of illness, of growing up, and of the ghosts that that lurk just beyond our sight—as well as the ones we carry with us.

The house seemed to sit apart from the others on Katydid Street, silent and alone, like it didn’t fit among them. For Violet Hart—whose family is about to move into the house on Katydid Street—very little felt like it fit anymore. Like their old home, suddenly too small since her mother remarried and the new baby arrived. Or Violet’s group of friends, which, since they started middle school, isn’t enough for Violet’s best friend, Paige. Everything seemed to be changing at once. But sometimes, Violet tells herself, change is okay.

That is, until Violet sees her new room. The attic bedroom in their new house is shadowy, creaky, and wrapped in old yellow wallpaper covered with a faded tangle of twisting vines and sickly flowers. And, soon after moving in, Violet falls ill—and does not get better. As days turn into weeks without any improvement, her family growing more confused and her friends wondering if she’s really sick at all, she finds herself spending more and more time alone in the room with the yellow wallpaper, the shadows moving in the corners, wrapping themselves around her at night.

And soon Violet starts to suspect that she might not be alone in the room at all.

Anne Ursu

Anne Ursu is the author of acclaimed novels The Troubled Girls of Dragomir AcademyThe Lost GirlBreadcrumbs, and The Real Boyamong others. Her work has been selected as a National Book Award nominee, a Kirkus Prize finalist, and as a best book of the year by Parents MagazinePublishers Weekly, Amazon.com, and School Library Journal. She lives in Minneapolis with her family and an unruly herd of cats.


- The Horn Book

"Compulsively readable and relatable, Ursu’s twisty middle grade novel is highly recommended."

- School Library Journal

“Ursu draws on familiar elements of ghost stories and the renewed attention Long COVID has brought to chronic illness to create a deeply poignant exploration of what it means to be sick in a way the rest of the world dismisses.”

- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

"Less a haunted-house story than an empathetic examination of one girl’s fight to regain normalcy, the narrative validates the reality of the unseen."

- Booklist

“Ursu perceptively incorporates middle school drama into a page-turning tale about the difficulties of managing an invisible illness and any accompanying skepticism from friends and healthcare providers.”

- Publishers Weekly

“Anne Ursu has done it again: Not Quite a Ghost is a tender-yet-fierce hug of a story, complete with heartbreaking (and heartwarming) friendship ups and downs, a sensitive and honest exploration of invisible illness, and a truly creepy thing that lives inside the walls of a very special house. I want to press this beautiful book into the hands of everyone I know."

- Claire Legrand, New York Times Bestselling Author of Some Kind of Happiness

“Not Quite a Ghost is not quite like anything I’ve read. Insightful and creepy, surprising and tense, this ghost story is wonderfully and exuberantly human.”

- Eliot Schrefer, New York Times-bestselling author of The Darkness Outside Us

"Not Quite a Ghost is that rare book that manages to deeply satisfy on several levels: it’s a delightfully creepy haunting; an authentically tender middle school friendship drama; and an all-too-realistic portrait of a girl whose undiagnosed illness is the scariest specter of all. I loved it."

- Elana K. Arnold, award-winning author of A Boy Called Bat

“Anne Ursu hooks the reader through realistic, engaging characters and builds the suspense until it’s unbearable. What exactly is haunting Violet? You’ll get paper cuts on your fingertips turning the pages fast enough to find out.”

- J.A. White, author of Nightbooks


On sale now!

Published by Walden Pond Press an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers