Jo Whitby dedicates her picture book, Spirits of Glasgow, to “those who have gone before”. This sentiment encapsulates the melancholy – yet colourful – tone of Whitby’s book which features a short story by Chris McQueer.
Whitby’s large, vibrant pictures are beautiful. They perfectly capture some of Glasgow’s most iconic spots. Every image is set against a gorgeously hazy sky which warps as the story progresses through a night in the city.
McQueer’s story accompanies Whitby’s pictures and follows a nameless ghost hunter as they make their way through Glasgow, on the hunt for spirits hiding in the nooks and crannies of the city. The determined narrator travels through the city’s landmarks. From Duke Street, to Central station and all the way to the banks of the Clyde, the reader embarks on a search for Glasgow’s Ghouls.
Whitby’s choice of spots in Glasgow to capture is poignant. With readers not familiar with Glasgow easily able to recognise the towering crane by the clyde or even just the scatter of cartoon high rises, I’m sure Glasgow natives will feel Whitby has created a true image of Glasgow, one they recognise as their own.
The only figures we see in the book are Whitby’s playful ghost figures, as they scatter the pages of the book. This creates a strong sense of melancholy. McQueer and Whitby show us a quiet, moonlit, reflective Glasgow, void of the busy, loud city goers. Spirits of Glasgow takes on a journey through Glasgow’s streets, letting us see an empty city and reminding us of the people who have come before us – and the spirits that linger.
[Hannah Davenport – she/her]