Good morning all! I am very excited today because not only do I have a fun, cheeky fantasy book to share with you, but I’ve also got a whole new review format to unleash! You see, my psychologist decided that I was too stony faced…not adept at sharing my emotions…unskilled in letting forth my true feelings about books…and so I have delved deep into my psyche to present a review that really encompasses a range of emotions about this book. I give you the very first “The Good, The Sad and The Quirky” review!
So away we go! Today’s offering is Skycastle, the Demon and Me by Andy Mulberry, the first in a new series for middle grade lovers of fantasy and adventure and unhelpful demons who have been accidentally foisted on you. The book follows Jack Harper, who discovers a strange piece of advertising under the fridge (as you do) and inadvertently uses it to order a demon for his castle-turned-museum home. Brinkloven Crowley (III), or Brink to his (non-existent) friends, is the aforementioned demon, and a more surely young example of his kind you would be hard pressed to find, although part of the surliness may be attributed to Brink’s imprisonment in a reasonably small crate prior to delivery at Greencastle. As Jack attempts to use Brink as a hauntingly exciting addition to current tours provided at the castle (with mixed results), he begins to think that maybe having a demon around isn’t such a bad idea after all. But when the Demon Collection Agency shows up to receive payment for Brink (or to repossess the demon…no pun intended), if Jack can’t come up with the money Brink might be looking at another eternity stuffed in a crate. What are a boy and his demon to do?!
What else can I say but, this book was meant for readers of my ilk. That is, readers who love a story about unearthly creatures that is mixed with the funnies. I loved this story and I predict that middle graders will love it too. Jack is your typical “everyboy” and Brink is your typical slightly emo, understandably cranky demon kid. It was a fun, fast-flowing romp/cautionary tale that everyone should read prior to ordering a demon for their home. So here’s the Good:
* A well-paced plot that doesn’t waste time on overburdening the reader with detail, but leaves plenty of space for humour
* The provision of a useful cautionary tale for those considering demon-ownership…remember kids, a demon is for life, not just for Christmas.
The only problem I had with the story (if problem it could be called, was that I was left wanting more…and more and MORE! I know this is the first book in the series (and I will certainly be hanging out for the next), but after finishing the book in one quick sitting, I had that feeling that I often get when reading graphic novels – the bittersweet pang of contentment at finishing a good story, mixed with a yearning to know the next bit. Immediately. This struck me as an adult (and super-speedy, if I do say so myself…and I do) reader, but may not affect readers of the target age-group quite so much (due to their inferior reading speed, you understand). So here’s the Sad:
* As I finished it in one sitting, I was left wanting more, which is a little painful when the second book hasn’t been released yet.
This book has got quirky in bucketloads. While reading I was reminded of the cheeky characterisation in Matt Haig’s “Shadow Forest”, and the wry tone of Caro King’s “Seven Sorcerers”. This book is a lot shorter than either of those though, so it was just enough of a hit to keep me going until the next wry, cheeky novel comes along to entice me. So here’s the quirky:
* A cliffhanger ending that involves an inanimate structure in a very deft piece of escape artistry
* The hiding of a very important plot device in the last place you would ever look…under the fridge
So there you have it. My emotions laid bare for your entertainment. And if that wasn’t enough, I will also be featuring Andy Mulberry, author of Skycastle, the Demon and Me in an author spotlight in the very near future. And there may even be a giveaway. You’ll just have to wait and see…..oh, who am I kidding, there’ll DEFINITELY be a giveaway. So keep your eyeballs peeled!
Until next time,
Bruce (and the various facets of his personality)