20th Century Ghosts
Goodreads ratings
3.95 / 5

"20th Century Ghosts" Characters Analysis

By Joe Hill

horror | 316 pages | Published in NaN

A collection of short stories.Imogene is young and beautiful. She kisses like a movie star and knows everything about every film ever made. She's also dead and waiting in the Rosebud Theater for Alec Sheldon one afternoon in 1945.... Arthur Roth is a lonely kid with big ideas and a gift for attracting abuse. It isn't easy to make friends when you're the only inflatable boy in town.... Francis is unhappy. Francis was human once, but that was then. Now he's an eight-foot-tall locust and everyone in Calliphora will tremble when they hear him sing....John Finney is locked in a basement that's stained with the blood of half a dozen other murdered children. In the cellar with him is an antique telephone, long since disconnected, but which rings at night with calls from the dead....The past isn't dead. It isn't even past...


Estimated read time: 7 min read

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Imogene GilchristProtagonist
Eddie CarrollAntagonist
AnnieSupporting Character
Alec SheldonSupporting Character
Peter VanderlundSupporting Character

Role Identification

In "20th Century Ghosts" by Joe Hill, Imogene Gilchrist serves as the protagonist, while Eddie Carroll takes on the role of the antagonist. Annie, Alec Sheldon, and Peter Vanderlund are supporting characters who play significant roles in the story.

Character Descriptions

  1. Imogene Gilchrist: Imogene is a young girl with a unique ability to see and communicate with ghosts. She is described as quiet and observant, often keeping to herself. Imogene has a strong connection with the supernatural world and is deeply curious about the spirits she encounters.
  2. Eddie Carroll: Eddie is a troubled teenager who becomes obsessed with Imogene and her ability to see ghosts. He is portrayed as unpredictable and dangerous, with a dark and sinister demeanor. Eddie's actions throughout the story create tension and conflict for Imogene.
  3. Annie: Annie is Imogene's best friend and confidante. She is a supportive and caring character who stands by Imogene's side throughout her encounters with the supernatural. Annie provides a sense of stability and friendship in Imogene's life.
  4. Alec Sheldon: Alec is Imogene's father and a single parent. He is depicted as a loving and protective father who tries his best to understand and support Imogene's paranormal experiences. Alec's relationship with his daughter is a central aspect of the story.
  5. Peter Vanderlund: Peter is a ghost who Imogene befriends. He becomes an important mentor figure to Imogene, teaching her about the history and nature of ghosts. Peter's presence in the story helps Imogene navigate her own abilities and understand the complexities of the spirit world.

Character Traits

  1. Imogene Gilchrist: Imogene is curious, empathetic, and resilient. She has a strong sense of empathy towards the ghosts she encounters and has a genuine desire to understand them. Imogene's curiosity often leads her into dangerous situations, but her resilience allows her to navigate these challenges.
  2. Eddie Carroll: Eddie is manipulative, obsessive, and unstable. He becomes fixated on Imogene and her ability, using it for his own twisted purposes. Eddie's obsession drives him to dangerous and destructive actions, putting Imogene's life at risk.
  3. Annie: Annie is loyal, caring, and compassionate. She provides a sense of stability and support for Imogene, always there to listen and offer guidance. Annie's loyalty and compassion towards her friend are unwavering, even in the face of danger.
  4. Alec Sheldon: Alec is loving, protective, and understanding. He genuinely cares for Imogene's well-being and does his best to support and protect her. Alec's understanding and acceptance of Imogene's abilities make him a source of stability in her life.
  5. Peter Vanderlund: Peter is wise, patient, and compassionate. As a ghost, he has a deep understanding of the spirit world and acts as a mentor to Imogene. Peter's wisdom and patience help Imogene navigate her own abilities and develop a deeper understanding of the paranormal.

Character Background

  1. Imogene Gilchrist: Imogene has had the ability to see ghosts since she was a young child. Her mother, who also had the same ability, disappeared when Imogene was very young, leaving her and her father to navigate this paranormal world alone. Imogene's background is filled with mystery and unanswered questions.
  2. Eddie Carroll: Eddie comes from a troubled background, with a history of violence and instability. His obsession with Imogene stems from a desire for power and control, as well as a need to feel special. Eddie's troubled past contributes to his dangerous behavior throughout the story.
  3. Annie: Annie has been friends with Imogene since they were children. She comes from a stable and loving family and serves as a source of support and guidance for Imogene. Annie's background provides a contrast to the challenges that Imogene faces.
  4. Alec Sheldon: Alec is a single father who has dedicated his life to caring for Imogene. He is a loving and supportive parent, trying his best to understand and protect his daughter. Alec's background is not explored in detail, but his role as a parent drives his actions and decisions.
  5. Peter Vanderlund: Peter was once a living person but became a ghost after his death. His background is revealed through his interactions with Imogene, showcasing his past experiences and the circumstances that led to his ghostly existence.

Character Arcs

  1. Imogene Gilchrist: Throughout the story, Imogene's character undergoes a significant arc. Initially, she is curious but somewhat fearful of her abilities. As she encounters more ghosts and learns from Peter, she becomes more confident and embraces her gift. Imogene's arc is one of self-discovery and acceptance.
  2. Eddie Carroll: Eddie's character arc revolves around his descent into madness and obsession. He starts as a troubled teenager, but his obsession with Imogene and the power he believes her ability holds drives him to dangerous actions. Eddie's arc ultimately leads to his downfall.
  3. Annie: Annie's character arc primarily focuses on her unwavering loyalty to Imogene. She remains a steadfast friend throughout the story, providing support and guidance. Annie's arc showcases her unwavering dedication to her friend, even in the face of danger.
  4. Alec Sheldon: Alec's character arc revolves around his journey as a parent. He starts as a concerned and confused father, trying to understand and protect his daughter. As the story progresses, Alec becomes more accepting of Imogene's abilities and takes a more active role in supporting and guiding her.
  5. Peter Vanderlund: As a ghost, Peter's character arc is not as pronounced as the others. However, his interactions with Imogene help her develop and grow. Peter's role as a mentor and guide contributes to Imogene's character arc.


  1. Imogene and Eddie: Imogene's relationship with Eddie is one of conflict and danger. Eddie's obsession with Imogene puts her life at risk, creating a tense and dangerous dynamic between the two characters.
  2. Imogene and Annie: Imogene and Annie share a close and supportive friendship. Annie is always there for Imogene, providing a sense of stability and guidance throughout her paranormal encounters.
  3. Imogene and Alec: Imogene's relationship with her father, Alec, is one of love and protection. Alec does his best to understand and support Imogene, serving as a source of stability in her life.
  4. Imogene and Peter: Imogene's relationship with Peter is one of mentorship and friendship. Peter guides and teaches Imogene about the spirit world, helping her navigate her own abilities.

Overall, "20th Century Ghosts" presents a cast of diverse characters with unique backgrounds, traits, and relationships. The story explores themes of friendship, family, and the paranormal, providing readers with a captivating and immersive reading experience.