It's still not safe under the bed...
Just when Morton thinks that all of his Scare Scape toys are no longer going to attack him and his siblings, their town is beset by hordes of two-headed mutant rodents! Hoping that this is just a Halloween occurrence, Morton keeps an eye on the situation, but also has to deal with his father's long hours and bad cooking, his friend Robbie joining a punk rock band with Nolan and the bully Brad, and Mrs. Smedley, who is "babysitting" the children at their father's request. Things start to get even weirder when another boy in school, Derek, has a toy advertised at the back of the Scare Scape comics that starts actually working-- a working antigravity laser can cause some big problems when used at school! How did the objects from John King's creepy comics start coming to life again? When Nolan goes missing and Brad is turned into a Snarf, Morton reopens his investigation into John King's life and work. He finds some documents in the house, but suspects that others may have been sold... and may have fallen into the wrong hands. Bit by bit, the full terror of the Scare Scape world is revealed, but there are still many questions surroundings John King's life and work.
While some of the questions from the first book are answered, there are even more questions introduced, so I strongly suspect there might be another book in the series. As in the first book, there are fantastic scenes with various monsters, a great illustrated center section with monster descriptions, and intriguing mysteries about Morton's predicament. There's even a Scare Scape comic at the end of the book, which is a great addition! I just wish the explanations about King's activities were described a little more clearly and briefly.
Robbie's interest in the band, and Morton's feelings of abandonment are so true to the middle school experience. Brad is described as a "bully", but his actions are never very stereotypical, which was a relief. He and Nolan end up being more interesting than I thought they would be. Melissa has some clever moments, but the character that I found most fascinating was Mrs. Smedley. I thought that she would turn out to be some sort of monster fighter, but she hasn't... yet! I loved the description of her "Mrs. Smedley's hands were buttery soft and she smelled ever so slightly of violets." (From ARC, not final copy.) She bakes cookies and scones, and it would be awesome if she also ended up fighting monsters!
Middle grade readers enjoy scary books because it takes their mind off of the drama going on around them on a daily basis. Flesh-eating Coackroaches, Ten-eyed Salamanders, and Shark Hounds certainly will make fans of horror fiction (such as Dan Poblocki's books) feel much more relaxed about any upcoming algebra tests!