"A humorous hodgepodge of horror elements. . . . A Halloween howler."--Family Life
"This book is a real winner--children won't be able to put it down!"--Boston Herald
"Unquestionably weird, but nevertheless highly addictive."--School Library Journal
This is a truly odd story. The word "madcap" hardly covers it. Owl's Roost, Nebraska is too small a town to have much to interest eleven-year-old Anthony Walker and his younger sister Sarah. But it does have a mansion with a haunted-house reputation. Morley Manor hasn't been occupied for 50 years, due to some unspeakable, mysterious event. The new owner of the manor has an estate sale where Anthony and Sarah find a small box containing five peculiar little figures¾including a humanoid with a lizard's head, a hunchback, and a woman with snakes for hair. The children buy the box and take it home. When one of the creatures accidentally gets splashed with water, he begins to move. Surprised but not terrified (yet) the kids bathe all five creatures. The other woman figure becomes a vampire and the other man a weredog, specifically, a were-cocker spaniel. Four of these five are siblings and have been put under a spell by aliens who abducted Lizard-head's twin brother. The aliens have an evil plan to take over the world, and it involves the world's dead. Now come the unbelievable coincidences. It's back to the manor in the middle of the night, where all five return to their real sizes. The children's grandfather has recently died, and they still miss him. When their parents go to a convention, their grandmother stays with them, and for reasons essential to the story, everyone ends up in the land of the dead. Does it seem providential that their grandfather, unable to let go of his life, is the only soul who cares enough to help them? Also, a character called Ivanova, an angel being punished, is trying to convince the dead to move on. Wait. It gets stranger. Anthony is able to communicatewith Ivanova, and his descriptions of the physical being, as well as his insights, are suddenly too sophisticated for an eleven-year-old boy. If you can last this long, you are fonder of the "not quite right" in children's stories than I am. For Coville's fans. 2001, Harcourt, $16.00. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer:Judy Silverman
Anthony and his sister Sarah lead an ordinary life in Owl's Roost, Nebraska, until they inadvertently free a family of five monsters who have been imprisoned for decades in a small chest. Demonstrating a keen sense of loyalty to their newfound friends, Anthony and Sarah assist the monsters in reclaiming their home, reconnecting their family, and eventually saving the world from a race of alien warriors. During the course of this fast-paced adventure, they travel through a mystical door to alien worlds, and other magical spots where they meet a cast of unique characters such as frog creatures, lost souls, and a beautiful angel. They even temporarily reunite with their recently deceased grandfather who helps them battle the problems of the universe. Using Anthony as the first person narrator who candidly recounts his fear, awe, and growing respect for the mysteries of the world, Coville creates a humorous and entertaining tale. Coville's descriptions of characters and settings are imaginative and engaging. Although this story is fantastic, the theme of love and support of family and friends resounds realistically throughout the entire work. The plot of this easy-read, happy-ending novel moves quickly, making it a possible favorite for young, reluctant male readers. 2001, Harcourt, 221 pp.,
Gr 3-6-Bruce Coville's trademark humor is very much in evidence in this full cast production of his farcical adventure story (Harcourt, 2001). Sixth grader Anthony Walker and precocious little sister, Sarah, purchase a box of miniature figurines from mysterious Morley Manor. After Anthony accidentally gets one of the figurines wet, he notices its tiny hand clenching and unclenching, an eerie indication of life. He soaks all of the figurines and discovers that he has freed the Transylvanian Morleskievich family, which includes a seductive female vampire, a Medusa-like woman, a werehuman, a hunchback, and a lizard man. A myriad of plot twists ensue, featuring a possible alien takeover of Earth, travel to different worlds, ghostly visits from a dead relative, and sorcerous acts. Coville is an extremely visual writer, and sometimes this makes for difficulties in creating entirely successful recordings because human voices can't make some of the very evocative sound effects he describes. The Morleskievich family members seem reminiscent of great old Hollywood monster movie characters, and the actors voice them accordingly, with homage to Bela Lugosi and perhaps Vincent Price. Coville himself is especially effective as Gaspar. The narrator of the story sometimes strains to convincingly portray an 11-year-old boy, but overall, the cast does an excellent job in conveying this zany tale of fantastical adventure that has an underlying theme of the importance of family. Listeners will laugh aloud at this enjoyable recording.-B. Allison Gray, South Country Library, Bellport, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Readers who prefer their monsters lizard-headed or with vampire fangs, snake-haired, hunchbacked or overmuscled, froggish or doggish, need look no further than this over-the-top tale of two human siblings helping a notably motley semi- or non-human cast stave off an alien invasion of Earth. When five small monster figurines bought at a garage sale return to life and original size after being dipped in water, they, along with Anthony and his little sister Sarah, are swept into a whirl of adventure that takes them from a conference inside the mouth of a giant alien frog to a more-than-somewhat Miltonic encounter with a fallen angel in the Land of the Dead. It seems that boulder-hewed (and scenery-chewing) barbarians from Planet Flinduvia plan to strip Earth of its ghosts, using them to reanimate enough dead warriors to conquer the galaxy. Can Anthony and Company hold the baddies off long enough to get a warning through to the powerful Coalition of Civilized Worlds? Do you doubt? Coville offers readers not only a magnificent opening line-"If Sarah hadn't put the monkey in the bathtub, we might never have had to help the monsters get big"-but an all-star cast, a creepy old mansion for an Earthly setting, magic, mad science, other worlds, and much, much, much more. (Fiction. 11-13)