Friday, May 24, 2013

Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault, by Adam-Troy Castro

(hb; 2013: second 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. . .

"Fernie and Gustav find themselves battling a new, shadowy foe - the shadow eater.  He is after the Nightmare Vault, which will unleash terrifying and threatening shadows into the world.  As Fernie and Gustav race to stop him, Fernie discovers more strange rooms in the Gloom mansion, learns about Gustav's mysterious past, and finds out just what happened to his missing parents."


Like Gustav Gloom and the People Taker, the first book in this series, Vault 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: "[Mr. What] was a professional safety expert and made his living teaching people how to avoid deadly accidents.  Fried chicken was, in his view, so very dangerous that he'd written an entire book, The Deadliest Cluck, about the terrible catastrophes it could cause.  According to the book, choking on a swallowed bone was not even the worst.  Chapter 7 described one case where a woman had hiccupped at the wrong time and inhaled an entire chicken leg up her right nostril, then sneezed it out and shot her husband through the heart."

Sharp-eyed fans of
Tim Burton, Stephen KingRoald Dahl, Shirley JacksonHenry Selick and the film ParaNorman may especially enjoy this shadow-themed and ultimately heartwarming (sans sappiness) treat.

Wonderful and whimsical 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 Four Terrors.

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