Ghost Moth is a very lyrical debut novel, though it didn't quite feel like a novel. The author's style, the compactness of chapters, made this work feel closer to a collection of short stories, but the arc connecting beginning to end was certainly one. So while the succinctness and tone reminded me of a collection, and while some of the chapters could stand alone, it would be inaccurate to call Ghost Moth anything but a novel.
Michèle Forbes' debut is profuse in language. She can form a very beautiful sentence that not only stands in sheer beauty, but resonates for pages. With this language as a backbone, she pieces together lovely scenes that work well into the book as a whole. Overall, Ghost Moth is a great story.
If there's one thing I would critique about this book, it would be the fleshing out of its characters. I don't know them well enough or understand their actions. This is most prominent when tragedy strikes young Katherine. Why do we not see inside her mind at this moment? Why do we not see her physical reaction? Why is the reader left with nothing? If we knew Katherine better, we could make assumptions, but we don't know her. Throughout the story there are too many questions left dangling because I didn't feel I knew the characters well enough. What does Katherine see in Tom? What does she see in George? Why doesn't she offer more information to the policeman? Sometimes, it's as though the author is stepping away from the confrontation, avoiding a dramatic scene by ending it before the reader is given answers. When George and Katherine share their confessions, the author takes the easy way out and quickly moves onto the next scene. This, as a whole, was my only issue with this novel.
I did appreciate the perspective of Elsa. At first, it was a bit jarring as this seemed to be Katherine's story, but in the end, I though it was a bold and smart move. It added a layer to the story that would've been sorely missing without.
So overall a great debut. I can't say the story will stay with me for long, but this has more to do with the characters than it does the story itself. I liked the story they had to tell, but just didn't feel like their hearts were into it.