Review Panel member Daisy previews The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules, a spooky new middle-grade title publishing 24th October. Read on to find out what we can expect from this 'horribly entertaining' adventure...
Book Title: The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules (available here)
Author: Gerald Killingworth
Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books
Publication Date: October 2019
Reviewed by: Daisy Rizo, Year 6 Teacher & Key Stage 2 Phase Leader
They say never judge a book by its cover, but with its beautifully dark illustration and a title that immediately captures your imagination, The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules is a book I couldn’t wait to explore!
Described as horribly entertaining, with a marvellous blend of horror and fright, the story explores the life of twelve-year-old Edwin Robbins. The first line sets the scene: 'A new baby! What was there to celebrate in that? '.
Immediately drawn into the trials and tribulations of Edwin’s school holidays and the impending doom of a new baby brother or sister, Edwin and his bumbling father go on a journey to find a new home big enough for their growing family. Snooping through an empty house’s charred fireplace, Edwin finds an unusual personals ad list and writes a half-hearted and joking reply. The letter is whooshed up the chimney and soon Edwin finds himself a mysterious pen pal - a greyish boy with puddle-water hair and skin, whose letters recall hiding in the cellar away from despicable aunts and strange pets with multiple tongues.
As the story progresses, Edwin is unceremoniously tugged into the peculiar world of his new friend Lanthorne, where an unbroken gloom shrouds the world in grey. Together, the two boys from very different worlds are turned into would-be detectives as they are pitted with the task of rescuing Edwin’s now-kidnapped baby sister, taken in the night by Lanthorne’s mysterious and terrifying Aunt Necra.
The book is an easy-to-read page turner, riddled with humorous dialogue and fantastically funny juxtapositions between our world and the curiosity of the gloom. With likeable characters, references to popular culture and a suitable dose of horror, this is a fantastic book that explores friendship, responsibility and the importance of telling the truth.
The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules would be a good addition to any primary school libraries and would not be out of place amongst authors such as JK Rowling and Tonke Dragt. It is recommended for Upper Key Stage 2 classrooms, where readers will be highly charmed by the peculiar ways of the Dead World and its inhabitants.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Daisy for reviewing it.
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