Different Genres in Gillian Polack’s “The Time of the Ghosts”

by Leonora Rexhi

The novel The Time of The Ghosts by Gillian Polack contains many different elements that seem to belong to a variety of genres. If one browses a bit through the internet, one will find out that the novel is associated with three genres at once, not just one. In ”The Time of The Ghosts” these are: Horror, Fantasy and Contemporary Fantasy. All genres overlap in some aspects, but also differ.

The Horror of Ghosts?

If one pays attention only to the title of the novel, one might think that it is a horror or gothic novel, because ghosts are a classic example of this genre and the novel is primarily about ghosts; to be precise about ”three ladies” who talk ”about ghosts” (Polack 12). Polack uses other horror elements, such as ”misty figures wandering, whispering shadows” (Polack 13) and shadows, which evoke fear and fascination in the reader. In addition, Polack also uses supernatural elements in her novel, such as souls or spirits; ”I can see spirits and otherworldly things more than ghosts, though” (Polack 16). In addition, death is also a theme in the novel, which is fitting for the Horror genre; such as in the Tales of Melusine.

From Horror into Fantasy

Nevertheless, it is difficult to draw exact lines, as many genres also overlap, such as the Horror and Fantasy genres. In both genres, the forest is mentioned as a feature, as it is considered as a mystical, creepy, dark place on the one hand, but also as a magical place on the other. The forest is most themed in the Tales of Melusine, where it is told how ”the fairy Melusine flew far away to visit the forest of Broceliande” (Polack 17). This aspect also brings us to the Fantasy genre, as the story is about the fairy Melusine, and fairies are one of the most significant features of the Fantasy genre. Another aspect of the Fantasy genre is the motif of various sagas or even folktales, which is fitting for the Tales of Melusine, since it is such a saga. The character of Melusine is a legendary figure of the Middle Ages who establishes a connection between a supra-irid being and a mortal (Märchenatlas).
Even with the Fantasy genre, there are overlaps with the Contemporary Fantasy genre, although they are very similar. The Contemporary Fantasy genre is defined as a genre with ”fantasy stories set in a modern setting” (Malatesta), where the characters are set in ”present day setting, with elements of magic and/or magical creatures” (Malatesta). In the novel it shows through the characters Lil, Ann and Mabel who encounter the ghosts and other supernatural beings in Canberra.

Speculative Fiction – Umbrella Term or One Among Many Genres?

Besides the above genres, the speculative fiction genre is also very applicable to Polack’s novel; if not the most applicable. That is because it is not a plot, or a world one knows, since it does not occur in everyday life. Most significantly, as mentioned earlier, there are crossovers in the speculative fiction genre with other genres, which is the main feature. As a result, it would be difficult to assign the novel to exactly one genre.
Polack uses many different elements, different genres in her novel, which makes it a very exciting but also, above all, very versatile story, with much to offer.


  • A. (2020, 23. März). Melusine (mythische Gestalt). Märchenatlas. http://www.maerchenatlas.de/miszellaneen/marchenfiguren/melusine/
  • Malatesta, M. (2019a, Mai 19). Contemporary Fantasy Genre – Complete List of. Book Genres. https://book-genres.com/contemporary-fantasy-genre/
  • Malatesta, M. (2019b, Mai 19). Horror Genre Definition – Complete List of. Book Genres. https://book-genres.com/horror-genre-definition/
  • Malatesta, M. (2019c, Mai 19). Speculative Fiction Definition – Complete List of. Book Genres. https://book-genres.com/speculative-fiction-definition
  • Polack, Gillian. The Time Of The Ghosts (Enchanted Australia Book 1)