Review of She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran

Release Date: February 28, 2023
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Genre: Young Adult, Horror


When Jade Nguyen arrives in Vietnam for a visit with her estranged father, she has one goal: survive five weeks pretending to be a happy family in the French colonial house Ba is restoring. She’s always lied to fit in, so if she’s straight enough, Vietnamese enough, American enough, she can get out with the college money he promised.

But the house has other plans. Night after night, Jade wakes up paralyzed. The walls exude a thrumming sound while bugs leave their legs and feelers in places they don’t belong. She finds curious traces of her ancestors in the gardens they once tended. And at night Jade can’t ignore the ghost of the beautiful bride who leaves cryptic warnings: Don’t eat.Neither Ba nor her sweet sister Lily believe that there is anything strange happening. With help from a delinquent girl, Jade will prove this house–the home they have always wanted–will not rest until it destroys them. Maybe, this time, she can keep her family together. As she roots out the house’s rot, she must also face the truth of who she is and who she must become to save them all.

My Thoughts

Let’s be clear here: the imperial machine is the root of all evil in She Is a Haunting. It’s what drives Cường to return to Nhà Hoa and what lured his ancestors to it decades before. It’s what killed Cam years before she died and what soured Marion’s soul. It’s what makes Jade feel like ‘‘a tourist in the country where [her] parents were born.’’ It’s what takes Florence away from her family and dump­ing her at an American boarding school and what drives a wedge between Cường and his siblings. The rot of colonialism sticks to Alma and Thomas like a second skin. For them it’s armor, privilege, and a weapon. They thrive on being the benefi­ciaries of colonial power as much as wielding that power over others…

Read the rest of this review at Locus Magazine.

Buy at (affiliate link).

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