Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 37
Unlikely friends stick together
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
What worked:
The author takes the time to establish a backstory, something readers don’t always see in graphic novels. The town was once a haven for witches escaping persecution but it’s assumed they still performed evil spells once they arrived. The arrival of a mysterious bloodmobile only adds to the aura as readers try to figure out why it’s come and who’s sponsoring it. Fittingly, much of the activity occurs at night only adding to the spookiness. The illustrations will help readers visualize the evil force attacking Ander’s Landing and the underground world where the ghouls can be found. The overall plot is well-developed with interesting, descriptive events and spooky twists sprinkled in.
Grey is the main character and the author and illustrator team up to present his complicated life. It seems he has a friend, a ghoul named Lavinia, who lives in the graveyard. It’s not clear how they met (it obviously happened in the previous book), but Lavinia and Grey have become close friends despite the efforts of the ghoul leadership. Pictures and text reveal Grey’s nightmares of mixed-up events, ignited by the presence of the bloodmobile parked in front of the school. He suspects vampires are behind the blood collection and his bad dreams but the truth is far worse than that. Grey and Lavinia are determined to protect each other, the ghouls, and the townspeople, and his best friend Marshall will be there to support them.
Featuring ghouls in a story makes this book a great read for the Halloween season. The author and illustrator are able to develop tension as Grey slowly discovers the dangers emerging in his town. Action scenes full of chasing and fighting spice up the narrative and more reflective scenes provide a balance. The author includes a bit of humor, especially playful banter between Grey and Lavinia. After Lavinia shares a story about the danger they’ll be facing, Grey manages to repeatedly mess up the pronunciation until Lavinia realizes it’s just to annoy her. The drama, suspense, and levity offer young readers a wonderful blend of entertainment.
What didn’t work as well:
The transitions between scenes early in the book aren’t always clearly defined which sometimes creates some momentary confusion. However, it’s not a big deal and readers should easily be able to follow the action. The rest of the book flows very nicely.
The Final Verdict:
This book is a fun, supernatural adventure with unlikely friendships and spookiness mixed in. Grey’s loyalty to Lavinia is unwavering and the duo presents a formidable force to anyone messing with the citizens of Ander’s Landing. For a graphic novel, the author and illustrator have created a compelling, entertaining story that I can highly recommend to young readers. Despite being a sequel to The Ghoul Next Door, this book can be read independently without any problem.
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