(hb; 2012: first book in the Gustav Gloom series. Cover and interior illustrations by Kristen Margiotta)
From the back cover:
"Gustav Gloom's neighbors think he is the unhappiest little boy in the world. But what they don't know is that the strange, dark house Gustav lives in is filled with more wonders and mysteries than could ever be explained. But explain is exactly what Gustav needs to do when Fernie What moves in across the street. And that's when the adventure really begins. . .
"When her cat chases his own shadow into the Gloom mansion, not only does Fernie get lost in Gustav's house full of shadows, but she also finds herself being chased by the mysterious People Taker. With Gustav's help, Fernie must save herself, her cat, and ultimately her family from what lurks in the Gloom mansion."
This is one of the most fun, imaginative and offbeat kid's books I've read in a long while, with something for both children and adults.
One of my favorite lines in the book: "This struck Fernie as the worst thing he had done yet. Taking people and throwing them into a bottomless pit to become slaves of a guy named Lord Obsidian was evil enough, but promising them pancakes first and not giving them any added an entirely different level of cruelty."
If my girlfriend and I had a child, this would be one of the first books I'd include in his/her library (for when he/she was old enough to understand/read it).
Fans of Tim Burton, Roald Dahl, Henry Selick and the film ParaNorman may especially enjoy this shadow-themed and ultimately heartwarming (sans sappiness) treat.
Wonderful work, this, between the dark, kid-friendly charm of Adam-Troy Castro 's story and characters, and Kristen Margiotta's perfect-for-the-book illustrations.
Followed by Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault.