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Author: Smith, Ronald L.
Twelve-year-old Rory and his friend Izzy try to foil the plans of Lord Foxglove, for whom Rory works as a valet, and his inhuman accomplices from taking over the world.
Kirkus Reviews (12/01/19)
School Library Journal (01/01/20)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (00/01/20)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/01/2019 Rory, a good lad, lives with his hardworking mother near the docks in a town called Gloom. When he realizes that Mum’s earnings will no longer cover the rent, he takes the only job available: gentleman’s valet at sinister Foxglove Manor. Soon he’s responsible for every menial task in the monstrous house. Terrified of Lord Foxglove, Rory works very hard, yet he awakens in the night to the sounds of weird chanting. After he and his best friend Izzy uncover disturbing clues to an ongoing mystery, they marshal their wits, their allies, and all the unexpected magic within them to set things right. Smith, who won the 2016 Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent after writing Hoodoo (2015), spins a new, spine-tingling tale of good people facing down supernatural forces of evil. Once the well-drawn characters and distinctive setting are established, the story becomes increasingly involving, fast-paced, and imaginative. The final chapters will leave readers wondering what other riveting adventures await Rory and Izzy and hoping that sequels will follow. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 01/01/2020 Gr 5–7—Rory has lived in Gloom, a small, bleak fishing village all his life. His single mom can barely make ends meet, so when Rory sees that there's a job available at notoriously creepy Foxglove Manor, he decides the benefits outweigh the risks and applies for the position. Given a huge advance on his salary, he's initially ecstatic that he's able to help his mom pay the rent. However, he soon finds out that Lord Foxglove is even more evil than the rumors say. In fact, the whole town is in danger! Rory enlists his best friend Izzy to help defeat the supernatural forces that reside in the manor. While the town itself is a big part of the story, world-building is lacking, and everything wraps up way too neatly. A full cast of eccentric characters has potential, but none are fully developed. Despite all this, the story is far darker than the cover suggests, so budding horror fans may overlook some of the flaws for the chills it provides. Nonstop action also propels the story, making for a quick and relatively engaging read. VERDICT Despite some structural bumps along the way, this creepy adventure has promise. Recommended for general purchase.—Mandy Laferriere, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.