“After all, what had he really seen? Just a pale, smelly, dirty person wearing a squashed hat. With some flies and bugs on him. And yeah, he’d acted a little unusual, but it was a pretty big lap from there to Night of the Living Dead.”
This was just too much fun to read, I already fell in love with the first page of this book (and featured in on my blog), and I just had to read it.
Say hello to Spaulding (though he for some reason wants to be called Boat due to the S.S. Meriwether), a boy who just moved to the tiny town of Thedgeroot and is finding it full of mystery, and potential dead guys?
Spaulding was such a great character. He looked exactly like how I would imagine him. A bit awkward, slightly nerdy, always researching everything. I loved how he never gave up, and how he made friendship with the ghost guy next door (and his snake). I did feel sorry for him given how his parents were. Poor guy, I can imagine that he is trying hard to make them see him, but I guess that is just hopeless. At least he has his aunt who cares about him (even though she is often not around due to her writing so much). I just wish he had a more fun school life, now he seems to be unhappy so often.
And that mostly had to do with how no one ever did anything to stop that popular girl, Katrina, and also with the teachers in school. One doesn’t care about teaching or people having questions and even dismisses a kid with an interest, another is an old hag who really shouldn’t be teaching or being a librarian. Eventually we do get who this old lady is + why she is blocking people from reading stuff from the library, and things just clicked, but before that I wanted to hit her with a book (sorry, book).
But it isn’t just ghosts and dead guys, there is a whole big plot that is centred around the factory, Dr. Darke, Mr. Von Slecht, his wife. What is going on in this place, what are they doing in the factory? Will our group of kids figure it out or will they get in big trouble? It was so much fun to see the plot develop from just some ghosts and dead guys to a deep plot with all sorts of twists and turns. You never know what will happen at the next corner!
My biggest issue was Marietta. I just didn’t like her. She had some good moments, but she should just be honest for a bit and less grumpy about things. So what if you are nerdy? So what if you like some stranger things? Who cares? Just be yourself. She should be more like her sister. Kind, openhearted, friendly. I already wanted to throw her in a grave at a few moments in the book, but then she did that to Spaulding and I wanted to throw her for the dead people. Sorry, but that was just the straw for me. And the way she said sorry. Hello, a) not the time b) not the way you say sorry after doing such a terrible thing. Then there was the later parts, and I no. Just no. Go away.
Lucy was my favourite character. She was sweet, kind, I loved how she at times mistakenly heard the wrong thing, she was honest, how she dragged her euphonium (Daphne) with her at all times (even when she probably should just have left it home), how she was very brave (well, maybe not always, but for most of the time she was), and how she defended Spaulding when her sister went on an angry bleh mode.
Kenny also pops up at times, not as much as Lucy or Marietta, but still enough to be part of the group. He was a pretty nice guy, I loved his reactions to the things that happened.
Mr. Radzinsky wasn’t a great character to me in the beginning, but I started to warm up to him. He is just an old man who needs a bit of friendship and care. I was quite curious on what happened to him, and how he was still hanging around.
Some things felt a bit rushed, like how everything was resolved at the end. It felt like there was going to be a lot more pages, but in the end it was quickly resolved.
Plus points to how the villains were handled. It is not often that a children’s book will go that far with villains, I can appreciate a writer going that far and not take the regular route.
The book also has illustrations, mostly from Spaulding’s journal (including some comments from other characters). The style of the art was great, they fit with the story so well.
All in all, I can only hope that we will return to this town and its weirdness soon. I don’t want it to end with this book, I am sure there are enough stories to be told about the weird town. There is probably enough other things going on that need to be solved.