I have always loved creepy books. Those can be hard to find for a kid, unfortunately. I never wanted something blatantly scary that would give me nightmares, but I craved a book that would make my skin crawl a little bit, and make me think about the world around me in doing so. It may be years since my own childhood search, but I finally found that sort of creepy book that I always wanted.
Adam-Troy Castro’s Gustav Gloom and the People Taker is the first in a series that will leave the reader coming back for more. Fernie What is a normal girl with a hovering father who moves in across the street from the Gloom mansion, an eerie darkness surrounding it at all times. Fernie soon discovers that this literal gloom is a result of the mansion being a Shadow House, a portal to the universe which our own shadows have come from. After being the only person to ever become friends with the young boy who lives there (because he strangely is unable to leave the grounds) she realizes that her whole family is in grave danger. In order to prevent the People Taker from doing exactly what his names says, she must team up with the more knowledgeable Gustav to save herself and those she loves.
Castro’s characterization is incredible for a middle-grade novel. The story is fast-paced throughout and alternates between creepy and thought-provoking. An enjoyable read for any age, Gustav Gloom and the People Taker excites while introducing children to the Tim Burton-esque themes older readers are increasingly drawn to in both movies and literature.