Anya's troubles start at home. Her family emigrated from Russia to the US when she was five, and she has worked hard to lose her accent and look like an American girl. Unfortunately, her mother feeds her heavy Russian foods, makes her go to church, and encourages a friendship with Dima, a nerdy Russian boy who goes to the same school. Anya has one friend, Siobhan, but their friendship is based more on cutting class and shared cigarettes than on shared interests. After they have a disagreement Anya storms off to smoke in the woods. Unfortunately, she falls down a well and discovers not only a skeleton, but Emily, the ghost of the bones. Although at first Anya is petrified, but after she escapes from the well she and Emily strike up an uneasy friendship.
"Anya's Ghost" also explores what it means to be a teen, both 100 years ago and today. It asks whether there is a schedule for falling in love, getting married, and taking on responsibilities. Emily's ghostly origin provides a mirror for Anya to reflect on her own feelings and path.
Best of all, this is a ghost story, and at times it becomes genuinely scary. Much more effective than a shocking surprise in a movie, Brosgol provides some psychological terror, which is effective no matter what age, young or adult. The result is truly haunting.
I saw Brosgol talk about her book several years ago in Portland. She says that inking is her favorite part, and it's evident by her clean, dark, lines. (You can see a presentation of her process here.) She spent three years working on "Anya's Ghost" and the beautiful black and white with shades of lavender result is worth it.
Brosgol is also a storyboard artist at LAIKA, where she worked on the films Coraline and ParaNorman. Her twitter handle is @VeraBee and her website is verabee.com. You can also check out her minicomic, "raised by wolves," at verabee.com/wolf/