Ghost stories are perfect for summertime. Whether told at sleepovers by someone dramatically illuminated by flashlight or at campfire huddles in the middle of the woods, the chills of a spooky tale are wonderful relief from Oklahoma’s scorching heat.
The Hereafter book series by Oklahoma author Tara Hudson provides a new take on classic ghost lore. Its protagonist, Amelia, isn’t the target of a malignant spirit but rather the one doing the haunting. And she’s hardly the aver age apparition. The ghost of a drowned girl, Amelia must face a host of typical teenage problems while dealing with demons, exorcists and rogue spirits.
Elegy, the latest and final novel of the trilogy, is also the darkest, said the author.
Over the course of the first two books — Hereafter and Arise — Amelia was still developing her supernatural abilities. Now that they are fully realized, her challenges are greater than ever. The demons have given her an ultimatum: Amelia can hand over her soul or she can watch as the ones she loves are killed.
According to Hudson, the demons make good on their threat several times.
The news that their favorite characters are imperiled might spook readers of the series, but the suspense won’t be killing them for long; Elegy debuted yesterday.
“I feel like the fan when I meet my readers,” she said. “It is so exciting and humbling to meet people that not only took the time to read your books but also want to talk to you about them. Perfect strangers have opinions about the imaginary world that I created, and I love it.”
The inspiration for the young-adult series, published by HarperCollins, came from a visit Hudson took to a Choctaw Indian cemetery with her grandparents when she was a girl. The image of the quiet, rural graveyard, overgrown with grass and weeds, stuck in her mind. A short story written in college evolved into the first two chapters of a novel about a ghost girl who wakes up in a graveyard with no memory of her identity.
And the Hereafter series was born. Hudson chose to set the trilogy in her home state, and primarily in the Latimer County town of Wilburton. Readers passing through Wilburton shouldn’t be surprised to find the place a bit … haunting.