cover image Gallowgate


K.R. Alexander. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-338-80648-9

Following his parents’ murder seven years ago, 12-year-old Sebastian Wight, who can see ghosts, lives with his aunt Dahlia. When he comes face-to-face with the shadowman, a malevolent entity wearing a porcelain mask and set on capturing him, Aunt Dahlia reveals that Sebastian is an Æthercist—a being meant to banish evil spirits to the underworld. She sends him to Gallowgate Academy for the Ætheric Arts to study alchemy, conjuring, necromancy, and summoning. Once friendless Sebastian now finds himself with two pals, classmates who show him the ropes in dealing with poltergeists, banshees, and more. But the shadowman is stronger than the Gallowgate wards, and as the spirit’s pursuit of Sebastian grows more harrowing—and Sebastian realizes that the school is hiding secrets about his powers and his past—he must unravel many mysteries to face his foe. Employing myriad magical-school tropes, Alexander (Possess Me) delivers a thrilling fantasy adventure that sets itself apart via its vivid goth aesthetics and use of horror elements that are more squick than scary. Sebastian reads as white; context clues cue racial diversity among the supporting cast. Ages 9–12. Agent: Brent Taylor, Triada US. (Aug.)