The Monsters of Rookhaven

Publisher: Macmillan

Mirabelle is a monster. In fact, her whole family – from baby Gideon, to shapeshifting uncle Bertram, to the mysterious creature behind a locked door known only as Piglet – are monsters, brought together by magic and living in the magnificent Rookhaven – a gothic mansion protected by bloodthirsty flowers and flocking ravens.

But there is a gap in the magical glamour protecting her family’s home from being seen, causing two human siblings – the curious Jem and her brother Tom – to find themselves in a world very different to their own.

Whilst Mirabelle and Jem become fast friends, they’re too late to stop an evil presence slipping in through the glamour behind them – a monster that even monsters fear. Can Mirabelle protect her family from the terrifying creature hunting them?

This is a wonderfully gothic, funny, and spooky tale about all kinds of monsters, from the frightening beasts with sharp teeth and too many eyes to the kind who look just like anybody else. Some of Mirabelle’s family are the kind of creatures you’d be terrified to find under your bed, but Padraig Kenny’s humorous and careful characterisation makes each of them feel like an old friend – uncle Bertram’s diary of every human food he’s ever tasted is a funny and sweet glimpse into what monsters might find fascinating about the human world – whilst the evil Malice stalking Rookhaven is straight out of a nightmare.

There are scenes depicting some violence and mild horror, and several of the shadowy illustrations by Edward Bettison are really quite scary, so more sensitive viewers may want to exercise caution. A brilliant Halloween read for fans of strange and spooky stories including Skulduggery Pleasant, Goosebumps, or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

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