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Children's Fiction Ghost Stories

The Ghost Collector

by (author) Allison Mills

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2019
Ghost Stories, Native American, Native Canadian
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 10 to 18
  • Grade: 5 to 12
  • Reading age: 10 to 18


Ghosts aren’t meant to stick around forever…

Shelly and her grandmother catch ghosts. In their hair.

Just like all the women in their family, they can see souls who haven’t transitioned yet; it’s their job to help the ghosts along their journey. When Shelly’s mom dies suddenly, Shelly’s relationship to ghosts—and death—changes. Instead of helping spirits move on, Shelly starts hoarding them. But no matter how many ghost cats, dogs, or people she hides in her room, Shelly can’t ignore the one ghost that’s missing. Why hasn’t her mom’s ghost come home yet?

Rooted in a Cree worldview and inspired by stories about the author’s great-grandmother’s life, The Ghost Collector delves into questions of grief and loss, and introduces an exciting new voice in tween fiction that will appeal to fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Louisiana’s Way Home and Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls.

About the author

Allison Mills (Ililiw/Cree and settler) is a writer, archivist, and librarian who loves all things ghost-related. The Ghost Collector is her first novel. She lives in Vancouver. Follow Allison on Twitter at @sometimesal.

Allison Mills' profile page


  • Short-listed, Willow Award
  • Nominated, Silver Birch Fiction Award, OLA
  • Short-listed, Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Long-listed, Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award
  • Short-listed, Red Cedar Book Award
  • Short-listed, Chocolate Lily Book Award
  • Short-listed, Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award
  • Joint winner, Sunburst Award
  • Joint winner, Best Books List, CBC Books

Editorial Reviews

“Perfectly balances suspense and the supernatural . . . [A] powerful and moving story about coming to terms with the death of a loved one. It’s an auspicious debut that is sure to delight middle-grade readers.” 

The Globe and Mail, 08/25/19

“Excellent read, great characters and a neat story.” 

Village Media (syndicated), 08/16/20

“Offers readers a gentle and interesting lesson on ghost lore — as well as a refreshing challenge to assumptions about traditional knowledge.”

Toronto Star, 11/06/19

“Simple language makes The Ghost Collector accessible to its tween audience while introducing sophisticated concepts. In Shelly, Mills has created a believable, likeable character who learns important life lessons about the future in the rich context of her cultural past.” 

CM Reviews, 09/20/19

“Mills explores the confusion and anger loss can bring, as well as the difficulties of being different in middle school. It’s a quiet, contemplative read.” 

Booklist, 09/10/19

“Mills has created a gentle, understated story about grief and loss through a paranormal lens. This is a necessary book that is sure to have readers. Highly recommended.” 

School Library Journal, *starred review, 08/19

“Allison Mills’ The Ghost Collector is both delightful and haunting. A delicious blend of the supernatural and the very real. Mills has great respect for her audience. Taking great care to keep the narrative moving while never simplifying the novel’s ideas and themes of loss. The result is a nuanced study in empathy for both the characters and the readers.” 

Sunburst Award Jury, 08/20

“Mills’s spare prose is poignant and never heavy-handed, culturally specific yet universally resonant.” 

The Horn Book Magazine, 11/19

“An enjoyable, moving read, excellent for independent reading or literature circles in junior grades.”

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), 03/22

“A moving, compassionate story.” 

Falling Letters, 01/08/2020

“[An] original paranormal tale.” 

Kirkus Reviews, 06/12/19

“Poignantly haunting.” 

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 09/19

“Young readers will delight in the inventiveness of The Ghost Collector.” 

Canadian Children’s Book News, 01/24/20

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