Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for an advanced release copy of this galley.
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Twelve-year-old Luke Smith-Sharma shovels coal under a half-bombed, blackened power station. With his best friend Ravi he keeps his head down, hoping to one day earn his freedom and return to his family, while avoiding the wrath of the evil Tabatha Margate. When he tries to help new girl Jess, Luke is punished and sent to clean the sewers of the haunted East Wing, a place from which few return.
Whilst serving his punishment, Luke realizes he can see things others can’t in the power station: ghostly things. He befriends a ghost-girl called Alma, who can ride clouds through the night sky and bend their shape to her will.
But when Luke discovers the terrible truth of why Tabatha Margate is kidnapping children and forcing them to work in the power station, Alma agrees to help him and his friends escape. Will Alma convince the ghost council to help their cause? And can Luke find his voice, while trying to find a way home?
This middle-grade novel is dark yet whimsical – an excellent choice for Autumn.
Initially, I chose this book due to its stunning cover and synopsis. The novel seemed like a fantastic choice for a fantasy read about ghosts! I always look for captivating reads, and I was pleasantly surprised that each chapter drew me in and kept me wanting to read more. The writing kept me engaged, despite feeling rushed at the book’s beginning. Fortunately, the book just got better as I went.
The novel has several dark themes, including kidnapping and forced child labour. These topics are sometimes challenging to read because child trafficking and child slavery are real world problems and human rights violations. Now, the novel includes these dark themes in a middle-grade fantasy. And while the book is a whimsical novel, the grim and dark atmosphere is reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ novels, though presented in a way that is potentially more accessible to younger readers.
I did enjoy this novel, though the power plant was difficult to visualize. I don’t think this will be an issue for all readers, but the greyscale descriptors made it difficult for me to discern the setting.
Finally, I’d like to touch on some things I thoroughly enjoyed in this novel. Of course, we always love a cat appearance, and Olivia and I were so happy to be introduced to Stealth the cat. I love the bond that Luke and Stealth shared and Stealth’s storyline. I enjoyed most of the characters – my favourite character was Luke’s grandma, Nana Chatterjee. I would have loved to have more of her in the book! It’s so nice to see character growth for several characters. And the concept of embracing parts of us that are unique is excellent to include in the book. I recommend this book (though, please check out the content warnings) and am looking forward to book 2, “Nightspark!”
Numerical Rating: 3.75 stars
QOTD: Do you enjoy middle grade fantasy?
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