The Hungry Ghost

Freja arrives in Singapore during the month of the hungry ghost, when old spirits are said to roam the streets and families must make offerings to appease their ancestors. She’s homesick for her Danish hometown and isn’t sure she fits in with the ‘happy family’ of her father, her step-mother and twin step-brothers.

As Freja tries to settle into her new life, a mysterious girl in a white dress starts to appear to her, seeming to beckon her on. Following this figure, Freja begins to unravel an old family mystery – one that must be solved before the month is over, to allow both girls to be freed from secrets long-buried.

The Hungry Ghost is an adventure story for middle-grade readers, set in the real world with fantasy elements. At its heart is a mystery and a deep love of family—both the living and those we have lost.

Anna Morrison has designed the stunning cover for Pushkin Press, and I love it just as much as the cover she made for The Missing Barbegazi.

You can buy The Hungry Ghost at your local bookshop or here:

What people are saying:

“[Freja’s] quest to solve the mystery of this unquiet spirit takes the pair into the thrilling territory of Chinese folklore and feng shui.”

Financial Times

“The Hungry Ghost is a wonderfully descriptive novel written with such suspense that young readers will be gripped from the start. This book discusses issues such as depression, death and family structure with care and subtlety and will leave a lasting impact on any reader.”

Children’s Book Ireland

“Explores lost family histories and expat life, with a taste of Singaporean myth and folk tradition.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A heartwarming children’s novel that is more sweet than spooky.”

The Straits Times

“I was moved by this story and gripped by the intricately wrought and mysterious quest that keeps you guessing until the final few powerful, teary pages.”

Piers Torday, author

A gripping, moving, perfectly crafted story of grief and love and family, with a compelling mystery and a very unusual friendship. One of my books of the year.

Sinéad O’Hart, author

“A superb novel for 9-12s, evocative, gripping, Singapore brought to life, a girl on a mission to help a ghost, secrets, adventures, Morse code. Beautifully constructed and expressed. Reminded me of Katherine Rundell.”

Jo Cotterill, author

“What a beautiful, beautiful book. Brimming with mystery, superstition and Singapore’s culture and traditions – The Hungry Ghost is a haunting, gripping and poignant read, brought to sparkling life by an expert storyteller. Quite simply wonderful!”

Eloises Williams, author

“I LOVED it! So rich, imaginative and atmospheric. A spooky tale that will give you the best sort of tingles, the perfect Autumn read.”

Dominique Valente, author

An atmospheric, hauntingly exquisite and poignant story. Set in sultry Singapore, this culturally-immersive tale will hold you gripped until the end where it snaps your heartstrings. What an absolute gem.

Juliette Forrest, author

“A must read family drama filled with atmosphere, suspense and mystery. … resonates long after the last page has been turned. An essential addition to school libraries and bookshelves.”

Victoria Williamson, author

“Finished this wonderful book a few days ago and I can’t get it out of my head. Set in the rich landscape and traditions of Singapore this is a story about longing, loss and belonging. Can’t recommend enough.”

Fleur Hitchcock, author

“Brushed with mythology and fantasy, this exciting middle-grade adventure story will delight.”

Nadia King, author

“My 10-year-old daughter and I both adored this thrilling, cleverly constructed tale, set in the steamy tropics of Singapore. Recommended for children aged 8-12 who love ghost stories, magic and adventure!”

Pip Harry, author

“The Hungry Ghost took me on a journey, both emotional and cultural and has a brilliant pace to keep any reader gripped until the end.”

Naomi, Through the Looking Glass

“The Hungry Ghost is a delightful experience of emotion and vivid description entwined with mystery and heartfelt characters that the reader wants to spend time with.”

Maja V., educator on NetGalley

“This is a wonderful journey for Freja and as the reader you feel deeply connected to her story. From learning cultural references and survival skills to understanding the dynamics of family life, there is so much to take from this beautiful story.”

Erin H., librarian on NetGalley

“The Hungry Ghost is a moving story that beautifully entwines family, friendship, culture and traditions in a way that will make you want to hug the book at the end. This is a book that is begging to be read.”

Karen, K and O: Bonkers About Books

“This moving and complex story by H S Norup weaves an incredible number of threads into a relatively short book, pulling them all into alignment at the end to create a perfect picture.”

Veronica, V’s View From the Bookshelves

“This was a thrilling, exciting, thoughtful and moving story. It kept me gripped from start to end, desperate to find out more and have the secrets revealed.”

Rich, What I Read

“Atmospheric, eerie and read-past-bedtime gripping, what ultimately makes Norup’s novel so good is its attention to the human world.”

Nick Campbell, The Impossible Library

Find links to full reviews here.

My inspiration for the book

The Hungry Ghost is inspired by my almost four years in Singapore. I loved living in this cultural melting pot and exploring everything the island had to offer. Like Freja in the story, after a while, I longed for quietness and undisturbed nature, and, like her, I found it in the most unexpected place… a completely overgrown Chinese cemetery.

Here are some of my photos of nature and wildlife from Bukit Brown Cemetery and other areas of Singapore: