Gloom Town

HMH. Feb. 2020. 288p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781328841612.
Gr 5-7–Rory has lived in Gloom, a small, bleak fishing village all his life. His single mom can barely make ends meet, so when Rory sees that there’s a job available at notoriously creepy Foxglove Manor, he decides the benefits outweigh the risks and applies for the position. Given a huge advance on his salary, he’s initially ecstatic that he’s able to help his mom pay the rent. However, he soon finds out that Lord Foxglove is even more evil than the rumors say. In fact, the whole town is in danger! Rory enlists his best friend Izzy to help defeat the supernatural forces that reside in the manor. While the town itself is a big part of the story, world-building is lacking, and everything wraps up way too neatly. A full cast of eccentric characters has potential, but none are fully developed. Despite all this, the story is far darker than the cover suggests, so budding horror fans may overlook some of the flaws for the chills it provides. Nonstop action also propels the story, making for a quick and relatively engaging read.
VERDICT Despite some structural bumps along the way, this creepy adventure has promise. Recommended for general purchase.

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