Linghun by Ai Jiang: A Review


Follow Wenqi, Liam, and Mrs. in this modern gothic ghost story by Chinese-Canadian writer and immigrant, Ai Jiang. LINGHUN is set in the mysterious town of HOME, a place where the dead live again as spirits, conjured by the grief-sick population that refuses to let go.’

The horror genre is filled with stories upon stories about ghosts and haunted houses. It has been a staple from the very roots of storytelling, and it remains so today. But many of these ghost stories end up more or less the same: house haunted by someone wrongfully murdered, house haunted by a cursed plot of land, a house haunted by lives left incomplete. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is the pinnacle of the genre. It is rare to come across a story which twists the trope in an original way. And Ai Jiang has done just that in her breakthrough novella, Linghun.

In Linghun, Wenqi and their family move into home in the very desirable town of HOME. The town is not desirable for the usual reason of economy, landscape, or amenities. But instead, because people can summon to ghosts of their loved ones to live with them while they inhabit one of the houses of HOME.

Jiang has developed a whole world where this idea makes total sense. There is a burgeon market for real estate agents, and a brutal system to auction of homes once families leave to those who live homeless on the lawns of HOME waiting for the opportunity at one of these houses and a chance to be with lost loved ones once again.

Linghun deals heavily with themes of grief and its toll on all involved. I’ve never read any other book which explores the theme so fully from so many perspectives. Jiang creates these hurting characters with heart-rending detail. There really were no weaknesses to the work. And the novella feels like the perfect length to tell the story. Congrats to Jiang for putting such an awesome story out into the world.

At the back of the book there are some bonus short stories as well. They are also very well written and entertaining, but the true delight of the book is in the novella itself.

Now that I’ve read my very first Ai Jiang story, I am hungry for more. I will be searching out more of their works moving forward.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars