Review: The Monsters of Morley Manor by Bruce Coville
This is a re-read from my younger days... I picked it up again because A) I liked it when I was eleven and usually when I like a book, I keep liking it, and B) Because even if I hadn't liked it when I was eleven I'd still want to read it. So there.
I've always liked Bruce Coville. (Click here for a list of his books.) His I Was a Sixth Grade Alien series and Aliens Ate My Homework series were and are some of my all-time favorites, and Jeremy Thatcher is The Best Book Ever. I've read most of his books, which go from kids' to YA and are mostly sci-fi or ghost-type stories with the occasional fantasy. All of them are fantastic (except the My Teacher is an Alien series, it's just not as good) so pick your poison and go to town.
The Monsters of Morley Manor, however, is a little bit outside his usual range. It starts off ghosty-horror when five monsters are brought to life, then progresses through fantasy, complete with magic rock and wizard guys, to sci-fi with world-hopping and aliens, then back to ghosty-horror.
The protagonists are Anthony Walker and his younger sister Sarah. Anthony is about ten-ish and Sarah is a few years younger, but unlike many authors Coville resists the urge to oversimplify them. The book deals with some complicated issues, involving Anthony and Sarah's recently-deceased grandfather, the afterlife, betrayal, time travel's effect on relationships, and a few other things, but it's presented as just real things that have to be dealt with, and the kids deal.
The book is suitable for anyone who can read a chapter book. The style is simple, but the plot is complicated enough to be interesting. The ending was sad, but perfectly executed, and the only thing wrong with the whole thing is that Bruce Coville never wrote a sequel. There aren't many similar books, except possibly Zorgamazoo in the genre-bending sense (and is it just me or do I recommend that book in every review...), but if you like this one you'll like his others.
I post weekly reviews of books in all genres, though I have a special affinity for fantasy and YA. Reviews are posted on Fridays or shortly thereafter, are spoiler-free or clearly marked, and feature recommendations for similar books near the end of the review. I make an effort to give exposure to books that are not already highly publicized and/or are not brand new. If you're passing out review copies and think I might like your book, email me!
My name is Fatalis Fortuna, Fate for short. I am currently a student and a part-time librarian. When I'm not working, I occupy myself with all things fictional, be they in print, on television, or on the silver screen; my two cats, Amontillado (after "The Cask of Amontillado," of course), and Alice (after Alice in Wonderland,); and my novel-in-progress, which is of course the next Great American Novel. To my knowledge it will be the first Great American Novel that is YA urban fantasy, and for this I will become both famous and rich. I've been published in both regional magazines and national magazines (Teen Ink, anyone?), but have not yet cracked the professional market.
Feel free to ask for a list of books in my BookMooch inventory. They're there because I want to give them away, don't be shy.