Alice Walks is one of the best ghost stories I’ve read in quite a while. I bought a few weeks ago and managed to read it last week.
Mikey Fitzsimmons’s father used to be a respected English teacher until a scandal cost him his career. Now he’s the caretaker at the cemetery. One winter night, Mikey steals his father’s keys and sneaks into the maintenance shed with a couple of friends to smoke a little pot. The conversation turns to Alice Arthur, a girl their age who drowned the previous summer.
Alice is buried in the same cemetery Mikey’s father works for. Due to a problem with a new embalming process, her coffin is currently sitting open in her mausoleum. Mikey makes up a story about Alice’s ghost. One thing leads to another, and the soon the boys are sneaking into her crypt. After all, what’s a little teenage grave desecration? The boys used the keys Mikey has stolen to break into the mausoleum, where they find a decay corpse of a young girl. Mikey, still a little high, holds her hand. And in doing so awakens something.
Is it Alice? Is it something else? Whatever it is, it’s not friendly. Soon Alice, or something calling itself Alice, is visiting Mikey. She’s’ lonely, and she’s stalking him. And she won’t take “No” for an answer.
For her to leave the graveyard, something has to die. At first it’s just a mouse or a bird, but soon Alice is going to start asking for, and taking, more. When Alice asks you to meet her, you better not turn her down.
Aronovitz hits all the right notes for creepy. Mausoleum doors that close on their own. Conversations with the dead. Glowing girls.
But Alice Walks isn’t just a collection of classic ghost tropes. Aronovitz tells a well plotted tale. Mikey is a character you care about, as the situation he has created continues to deteriorate. His parents don’t have the best relationship. His father works his fingers to the bone to support his family, while his mother retreats into a bottle, nursing her resentment at having to work a menial job and serve her former friends at a deli. Mikey has to deal with his deteriorating relationship with his mother in addition to an aggressive ghost.
Then there are Mikey’s two friends. They haven’t met Alice. Yet.
This is in part a coming of age story, but one with plenty of chills. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Alice Walks is a perfect read for the season. If you like a gripping ghost story, check it out.