Deadman’s Castle

Holiday House/Margaret Ferguson. Mar. 2021. 256p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780823446551.
Gr 3-7–Igor and his family have been running for as long as he can remember, ever since his father witnessed a crime. But now he is 12, and this time he gets to choose his new name while his father chooses his boundaries, where he can go alone, and mostly where he cannot. Breaking those boundaries was how Igor came to discover Rutherford B. Hayes Middle School and his absolute desire to be there. He has never had friends or any idea what a normal life could be until he insists on going to school. His first friends ever Zoe (an edgy goth girl who changes her identity yearly by choice) and Angelo (an Italian American former class bully) push him to start a new adventure without fear of the past and fear of the Lizard Man, who threatened his family all those years ago. Just as Igor begins to ask questions, the Lizard Man reappears. Featuring effective worldbuilding, this is a great, suspenseful tale of terror for upper middle graders. The hurried ending is the novel’s only flaw.
VERDICT A solid addition to middle school collections.

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