cover image The Monsters of Rookhaven

The Monsters of Rookhaven

Pádraig Kenny, illus. by Edward Bettison. . Holt, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-62394-2

Mirabelle, an otherworldly being in girl guise who looks "no more than twelve," lives with the Family, a close-knit group of monsters, at the House of Rookhaven. The group is protected from a nearby village by the Glamour, a magical barrier resulting from a generations-old monster-human pact, through which nothing may cross without a key. To the confusion and horror of the Rookhaven household, all rendered toothily macabre in inky b&w illustrations by Bettison, a tear appears in the Glamour soon after the arrival of a new Family member, allowing 12-year-old Jem and ailing 13-year-old Tom, orphan siblings on the run, to stumble through. Pivoting between the cued-white characters in a third-person narration, this elaborately cast adventure by Kenny (Tin) begins languidly, gathering momentum and turning grim when a Family member escapes just before an unsettling hitchhiker's arrival, and the human (and human-seeming) children must fight desperately to maintain relations between the Family and the postwar English village nearby. Full of gruesome charm and heart-wrenching pathos, this story offers a satisfying gothic fantasy at once chilling and affecting. Ages 10–14. Agent: Sophie Hicks, Sophie Hicks Agency. (Sept.)