cover image Ravenous Things

Ravenous Things

Derrick Chow. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-368-07763-7

A modern-day Pied Piper entices hundreds of children onto a midnight train in Chow’s chilling debut. Two years after his father’s death and his mother’s increasing disappearance into conspiracies, Reggie Wong, a 12-year-old cued as of Chinese descent, feels generally frustrated. But when a flute-playing, conductor-clad man in Toronto’s St. Patrick Station promises Reggie his heart’s desire from a subway ride, he—along with scores of other children—hops aboard the careening train. Among the other passengers are Quebecois Chantal Pelletier, a French-speaking girl with brown skin, and Reggie’s arch-nemesis Gareth Flanagan, who reads as white. But Reggie’s joyous reunion with his father becomes a horror-filled scene as Reggie realizes the truth: the children’s promised loved ones are roach-filled facsimiles designed to relive one memorable moment. And the Conductor is meanwhile transforming his beloved rats into humanoid rodents, then substituting them for the children above. Racing against a twisted time stream, Reggie and unlikely allies must thwart the Conductor’s nefarious scheme. Lessons of loss and acceptance intertwine with age-appropriate horror to create an occasionally convoluted, adventure-forward novel that unevenly blends changeling legends with the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Ages 8–12. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (July)