Festergrimm (The Legend of Eerie-on-the-Sea #4)

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Release Date
April 25, 2023
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Herbie Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, and his fearless friend Violet Parma have unearthed many secrets in their village of Eerie-on-Sea: secrets lurking beneath the waves, lapping onto the beaches, and lying behind locked doors. When their brilliant and ruthless nemesis, Sebastian Eels, returns with a plan to open the long-shuttered waxworks museum, Herbie and Violet suspect nefarious motives. Their investigation leads them into the dark Netherways below the town—and into the tragic past of the famous toymaker and inventor Ludovic Festergrimm and his doomed daughter, Pandora. Sebastian Eels is convinced that within the story of Festergrimm is the key to Eerie’s deepest secret—a secret in which Herbie himself plays a crucial part—and he’ll stop at nothing to uncover it, including bringing a terrifying clockwork legend back to life. With echoes of fairy tales and monster movies, plus a dismembered finger or two, this is a deliciously creepy addition to a fantastical mystery series that is perfectly calibrated to thrill middle-grade readers.

Editor review

1 review
Seeking answers to town secrets
(Updated: May 24, 2023)
Overall rating
Writing Style
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What worked:
This book is fourth in the series but it can be read independently of the previous books. Herbie, Viola, and Sebastian Lee clearly have a contentious past but enough details are shared to let readers know Lee is a despicable villain. Herbie and Viola are the only characters fully aware of Lee’s wicked past so everyone else is willing to assume he’s remorseful and a changed man. This attitude allows him to move freely about town, threatening the two kids when no one else is around. A few adults have doubts about Lee but they just plan to watch him rather than actually taking action to stop his plans. It’s unclear why Herbie and Viola haven’t shared details about Lee with the adults but it adds subtle drama to the plot.
The author establishes Eerie-on-Sea as a creepy, mysterious setting that non-residents will avoid at all costs. Many parts of the town are rundown and the overall story has a dark, gloomy atmosphere. Then, an abandoned building called Festergrimm’s Eerie Waxworks is introduced with its own level of spookiness. It’s shadowy and dusty inside with disturbing wax statues of strange, legendary personalities from the town’s past. Herbie ventures down into the underground section of the museum where he discovers even more wax sculptures and something more. He could swear one of the figures turns its head to stare at him.
The plot evolves into a mystery of sorts with Sebastian Lee scheming to uncover Eerie-on-Sea’s greatest secret. Herbie and Viola are determined to uncover it first and their investigation leads to connections with their own pasts. Vi finds a book written by her father that reveals details of the museum’s origins and leads to speculation about Lee’s plans. Herbie begins to sense he has hidden memories about a connection to the waxworks and he’s troubled that Lee may know more about his past than Herbie knows himself. The story is told from Herbie’s point of view so readers will have intimate knowledge of his emotions and thoughts. He knows Viola is more daring and adventurous when it comes to gathering clues but his own talents mesh well with hers and make them a formidable duo.
What didn’t work as well:
The initial conflict is a bit strange since Herbie and Vi want Sebastian out of town before they even know what he’s doing. It turns out they have reason to be suspicious. The conclusion of the plot may not appeal to everyone but that may be because it’s not a typical, happy ending. The book ends by opening the door for its sequel so readers should expect to read it too.
The Final Verdict:
The author creates an innovative story of love, loss, and greed. Herbie’s vague knowledge of his past is very compelling and makes me want to read the next book in the series. I recommend you give this book, and its sequel when it’s published, a shot.
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