Hangman’s Crossing

Candlewick/Walker. (Embassy of the Dead: Bk. 2). Oct. 2021. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536210484.
Gr 4 Up–Jake, fresh off his adventure in series opener Embassy of the Dead, is attempting to slide back into life as a normal British kid—ignoring the fact that he can see ghosts, that he’s been appointed an official Undoer (someone who helps ghosts pass on) by the Embassy, and that his house continues to be inhabited by possessor spirit Cora, his ghostly assistant in all things afterworld. Despite his best efforts, Jake is ultimately summoned back to the Embassy for some emergency Undoing while the Elite Undoers are busy with a rash of problems. Jake and Cora discover a dangerous mystery that leads them from a missing assistant, to a contraband Afterworld goods-smuggling ring, to the threat of the emergence of a Plague Demon that could spell doom for the living world and Afterworld alike. As with the first installment, creepiness and humor are incorporated well with a satisfyingly twisty mystery that keeps pages turning. Character skin color is not mentioned in the text, but Jake and Cora appear with light-colored skin and brown and blond hair in the charming pencil illustrations sprinkled throughout the book, while side characters are depicted with a variety of skin tones and hair types. Librarians and caregivers should be aware that this plot revolves around the thwarting of a communicable plague that threatens the stability of the worlds of both the living and the dead, and recommend accordingly.
VERDICT A spooky second installment that will satisfy fans of the first, and leave them excited for further adventures.

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