Book Title:
The Girl with the Ghost Machine
Book Author:
Lauren DeStefano
Page Count:
Publishing Date:
June 6th, 2017
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Date Read:
June 30th, 2017
ARC from publisher - Thank you!


What if a machine could bring back the ones we love? From New York Times bestseller Lauren DeStefano comes a captivating middle grade of loss, love and hope.

In this beautiful and poignant novel, acclaimed author Lauren DeStefano tells a story of love and loss, and what it means to say goodbye.

When Emmaline Beaumont's father started building the ghost machine, she didn't expect it to bring her mother back from the dead. But by locking himself in the basement to toil away at his hopes, Monsieur Beaumont has become obsessed with the contraption and neglected the living, and Emmaline is tired of feeling forgotten.

Nothing good has come from building the ghost machine, and Emmaline decides that the only way to bring her father back will be to make the ghost machine work…or destroy it forever.

My Review

The Girl with the Ghost Machine is an interesting story about a grieving girl who lost her mother to illness, and who is afraid she is losing her father to a machine that he is trying to build to bring her mother back.  It’s completely original and touching in a lot of different ways, and the whole premise of the book was completely fantastic.

Emmaline lost her mother a few years ago, and her father started to build a big machine in the basement that would bring her back.  He could never get it going or figure out how to make it work, but Emmaline hated it – it was taking up all of his time and not leaving any for her.  So after begging him to stop building it and spend more time with her, only to be met with his insistence that he keep trying, Emmaline takes matters into her own hands one night.

When Emmaline decides to dump her cup of tea into the machine in an attempt to break it one night, what happens instead is something completely unexpected – she sees her mother’s ghost and gets to spend some time with her.  When she tells her friends about the experience, they demand to see – and try to bring back their goldfish and their dog.  When Emmaline’s father finds out what it can do, he is overjoyed – his machine works!  But they slowly learn that it comes with a price – every time you place something that reminds you of the person you want to see into the machine, you lose a memory you  had of that person.

Emmaline uses the machine to help her neighbors, and her father uses the machine to see Emmaline’s mother a few times, but Emmaline isn’t sure that she will ever want to use it again.

When tragedy strikes and one of Emmaline’s friend’s lives are on the line, Emmaline must decide if she should try and use the machine again if the worst happens.  However, when the machine causes a rift between her and her other friend, she decides to stand up to her father and tell him that the machine is causing more harm than good.

The Girl with the Ghost Machine is one of the most creative middle grade books that I’ve come across.  Admittedly, I haven’t read any of Lauren DeStefano’s other middle grade books, so this was a nice treat.  Sometimes I just get in the mood for middle grade novels, and I was super excited to dive into this one, because it sounded like it was going to be something new.

This book is a book that combines love and loss along with a little bit of hope to weave together a tale that makes you look at life in a new light.  It was beautifully written and really easy to get lost in – I read the book in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down.

The reason I gave this one four stars instead of five was because of the characters – to me they felt like they could have been a little more well rounded personality wise – I couldn’t really connect with them.  Emmaline’s father just seemed so absent, and her friends weren’t all that memorable.  Emmaline’s character did have a bit more in terms of personality, but I still would have liked to see more things that would have made her even more interesting.

Aside from the issues I had with the book’s characters, I was absolutely in love with this.  There is so much to think about after reading this book, and while reading it, and I know for a fact that I’m going to read this one again and again.

If you like middle grade, or are a fan of Lauren DeStefano’s work, I highly recommend picking this one up and giving it a read!

4 stars
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12 Responses to The Girl with the Ghost Machine by Lauren DeStefano

  1. Brittany says:

    It’s actually my first time hearing about this book, even though I’ve heard great things about Lauren’s writing and her other books. I’m so glad you loved this one! Thanks for putting it on my radar 🙂

    Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles

    • Kelly says:

      I’ve only read Wither, but I love her style of writing and how amazing her stories are! If you get the chance to pick this one up, it’s definitely worth it. It’s a really quick read and it gives you a lot to think about – definitely one of my favorite middle grade reads that I’ve picked up in a while.

  2. Raven says:

    I don’t read Middle Grade Books much but this sounds interesting and I love the cover! Great Review! 🙂
    Raven recently posted…THE MID-YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT TAG! [2017]My Profile

  3. I haven’t read any of Lauren DeStafano’s middle grade books, but I really liked her Chemical Garden trilogy – especially Wither! The premise of this one sounds really unique (and also kind of sad), and I think if I am ever in the mood for middle grade fiction then I need to pick it up.

    It’s a shame that you felt like the personalities of the characters could have been a bit more fleshed out. I always find it hard to find that emotional connection if I don’t feel like they’re individual enough. Even so, I’m glad you enjoyed this book overall! I hope you like her other MG books if you decide to give them a go 🙂 All the covers seem to be matching, which is a good incentive – especially since they’re so gorgeous!

    • Kelly says:

      I was thinking of buying the rest of her middle grade books because I just love middle grade so much! I’m glad that you liked the rest of the Chemical Garden trilogy – I have all the books but haven’t read any of them since the first one – I had too many other books to read and I guess I forgot all about them. Lauren DeStefano definitely has a way with coming up with unique and incredible stories – she has so much talent, that’s for sure!

  4. I haven’t read any of Lauren DeStefano’s books and I really should fix that soon! I love the concept for this story. Even though the characters aren’t as well-developed as you had hoped, I am glad that you found it enjoyable. I will have to check this one out and add it to that big TBR of mine. 😉
    Olivia @ The Candid Cover recently posted…ARC Review: Hello, Sunshine by Leila HowlandMy Profile

  5. I like a good middle grade book every once in a while! This one sounds good!

    • Kelly says:

      It’s pretty good! If you want to pick up a middle grade book I definitely recommend it! It’s way different than anything else that I could suggest!

  6. I read her middle grade novel A Curious Tale of the In-Between and found it to be really charming. The premise of this one kind of reminds me of the movie Casper, haha. Glad you enjoyed this one overall. Great review!

  7. Christine says:

    I’ve read both The Chemical Garden Trilogy and Internment Chronicles and loved them. I don’t usually read MG but not only did Lauren right this but it also sounds so interesting! I don’t know how she comes up with the stories that she does but they are always very unique! I didn’t realize she had come out with a new novel and seeing that you enjoyed it and read it all in one sitting, I think I’m going to have to read this!
    Christine recently posted…Release Day Review: Coming Up for AirMy Profile

  8. Kaitlin ☺ says:

    Whoa, this sounds amazing! I love the premise.

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