I found Spooky Little Girl frustrating. It’s not that it’s bad, exactly, but I feel like there’s a much stronger and sharper book stuck inside it. It offers a nifty reversal on a traditional ghost story plot driver: instead of the living figuring out why they are being haunted, Lucy has to figure out why she’s haunting the living. Unfortunately the story is bogged down by dense masses of unneeded exposition and trite imagery (the milieu of the afterlife à la Notaro seems to owe a lot to films like Defending Your Life and Heaven Can Wait). And when Notaro does throw new elements into the mythology, the results are mixed. It’s one thing to ask me to suspend disbelief in ghosts. Swallowing the notion that Saturns’s rings are composed of frozen chunks of souls that “went into the light” is something else again. But my biggest problem was Lucy’s thickness — it was difficult to patient with the pace at which she worked out amply telegraphed plot points.
(This may be partly the collision of my expectations as a speculative fiction genre reader and Notaro’s perception of her (predominantly non-genre, I presume) audience — as an sf reader I place a premium on internal consistency, and generally expect (and prefer) quick-on-the-uptake characters. If those aren’t issues for you, you might like Spooky Little Girl better than I did. But on the other hand, I also found the characters a bit thin, and the prose a bit flat, which has nothing to do with genre.)
On the positive side, it did make me chuckle a few times, and it was kind of refreshing to read a mainstream novel with supernatural elements that didn’t go through all the pro forma paranormal romance moves.
needs more demons? Yeah.