Holly has problems. Her mom died, and her dad has taken up with her mom’s sister, Claudia, which is pretty oogy. Something that may or may not be her mom’s ghost is crying out for vengeance, and Holly doesn’t know whether to trust it or not. Everyone in Holly’s life has names that start with the same letter as characters in Hamlet, only gender-reversed. That’s not a problem per se, but Holly has apparently never heard of Hamlet, which makes me think the curriculum in that fancy East-coast prep school she attends is distinctly problematic, and it’s sad for Holly, because she’s missing out on a great work of literature.
Holly narrates. Her voice is uncomplicated, but offers some oddball details, and rather a lot of passive voice: “Three days later it was Christmas. It was the first one without my mom and I went through the motions like a cheerleading zombie in one of my aunt’s movies.” The tone suggests early on that the Holly’s tale won’t end in a Shakespearean only-an-heir-survives bloodbath, but it’s not initially clear if the ghost is to be trusted/not to be trusted/not really there, or what the outright-borrow/vaguely-evoke ratio will be between Hamlet‘s plot and the novel’s. I figured the answers out before Holly did, but then, I’m (apparently) better read. The dénouement was a bit more involving than I expected it to be, if a little pat/tidy; I was definitely emotionally invested enough to pull for Holly to make choices leading toward a positive outcome.
needs more demons? a bit.