The Ghoul of Windydown Vale

Jake Burt. Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-23657-9
Copper Inskeep, 14, lives in Windydown Vale, a town rife with sinkholes, quicksand-like mud, and secrets galore. Copper thinks he knows the biggest secret: the legendary Ghoul that haunts the town’s outskirts has in fact always been a member of his family in costume, and now it’s him. Windydown’s founders, including Copper’s grandfather, swore to keep the town safe from bandits—and travelers safe from the swamps—with manufactured Ghoul-sightings, which seems to work perfectly until the day a girl on a runaway horse thunders into town and reports that her father was taken by the Ghoul. Days later, a man shows up pledging to rid Windydown of the Ghoul for good—but much like the people of Windydown themselves, neither the girl nor the man is what they seem. Presumed-white characters are well drawn, particularly scarred blacksmith apprentice Liza, Copper’s best friend and possible love interest, while Burt’s (Cleo Porter and the Body Electric) sensory prose makes the slippery mud nearly tangible. Connor’s struggle to honor his family legacy, as well as determine his feelings for Liza, will resonate with contemporary readers in Burt’s twisty historical mystery, which balances jaunty banter with plenty of difficult realizations. Ages 10–14. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 08/05/2021
Release date: 09/28/2021
Genre: Children's
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