cover image Malice


Chris Wooding, , illus. by Dan Chernett. . Scholastic Press, $14.99 (377pp) ISBN 978-0-545-16043-8

Toying with the menace and adventure of urban legends and comic books, Wooding (The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray ) introduces readers to the bizarre realm of Malice in this novel/comic book hybrid. Every kid knows how to get there: gather certain ingredients and call six times for Tall Jake, and he may come to steal you away. When their friend Luke vanishes, Seth and Kady theorize that he was taken by Tall Jake, and begin to investigate. Then Seth disappears as well, sucked into a world where mechanical monsters stalk the unwary and the only way home is to obtain a rare white train ticket. As Kady continues to uncover secrets in the real world—including her own connection to Malice—Seth and a new friend undergo a harrowing journey seeking answers. The cliffhanger ending means that many of those answers must wait until the second book, Havoc , planned for 2010. But the fast-paced story line and whimsically dangerous setting will capture plenty of attention. Even more eye-catching are the interspersed sections where comic book panels replace textual narrative (as well as the three-dimensional cover), making this a memorable multimedia experience. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)