The Ghoul Next Door

HarperAlley. Jul. 2021. 200p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780062896100; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780062896094.
Gr 4-8–When Grey takes a shortcut to school through the cemetery, he trips and loses a school project in a mysterious hole in the ground. In the days that follow, creepy events plague him until he finally discovers that he has made contact with a ghoul named Lavinia. While the two forge a friendship, Grey’s human friend Marshall becomes increasingly unsettled at their relationship. Unfortunately, ghouls are not meant to befriend humans, so Lavinia and Grey have to save Marshall from a terrifying fate in the underworld. The fast-paced story offers just the right balance of scares and intrigue. The characters will resonate with young readers also grappling with difficulties with school, friendships, and parents. The full-color illustrations are marvelous, and the journey to the underworld is awash in eerie greens and blues. The dialogue between the characters is natural and moves quickly. While this seems to be a stand-alone offering, readers will want more stories from this spooky crew. Grey is Asian; Marshall is white.
VERDICT Fans of macabre tales, such as the “Amulet” series or Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost, will delight in this charming comic.

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