By Jonathan L. Ferrara
Combined Rating: 4.5/5 Stairs
(My rating: 4/5 Stairs, My son’s rating: 5/5 Stairs)
I should tell you that I finished this book a few weeks ago, but was waiting for my 6th grade son to get a chance to read it before I posted this review. It is a middle grade book, and I wanted some input from that audience as well as my adult perspective.
The book begins with the Dart family, “a strange group of individuals.” Gregory Dart is in fact the owner of the G.R. Cemetery, and the six members of the Dart family live in a house on the edge of the cemetery.
Lastly, there was the Dart’s middle child. He was the wallflower of the family and perhaps the strangest one of them all. His name was Elijah.
When we meet Elijah Dart, he is celebrating his 14th birthday, which also happens to be Halloween. Throughout the day strange things begin to happen to Elijah, and he starts to realize that his family may not just be your typical “normal” California clan. (Especially when you realize you’ve got a talking dog and find that your father isn’t who you thought he was.)
“Destiny is funny. She reveals herself when you least expect it and can change your whole life in an instant.”
This was a nice entry to a new series. There are lovely illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, which just add to the story. While the majority of this first installment is Elijah discovering who he truly is, there is also the set-up going on for a big good-versus-evil battle. At the beginning of the book, Elijah and his cousin Hayden are playing a game of chess. It felt to me throughout the book like the evil side was setting up their own chess game against Elijah, moving their pieces into position for battle.
From an adult perspective, I enjoyed the story and Elijah’s coming of age and learning of his family responsibilities, of which up to this point, he had been completely in the dark. I found the father-son moments to be especially touching.
“This is what life is all about, Elijah. Death happens to all of us. It’s not something to be frightened of, but yet it’s not something you should go looking for. It simply comes when our souls are ready to depart from this realm and journey into the next.”
The book was on the short side, but I appreciate that Mr. Ferrara didn’t pad the book just to bump up the page count.
My son loved this book. He is the prime audience for the story. He sat down and read it in one sitting. When he reached the end I heard him cry out, “What?! Are you kidding me?” When I asked him what was wrong, he was upset because the book was finished. He was ready for more. When I asked him what he enjoyed about the book, he said it kept him interested the whole time, he liked the characters, and enjoyed the way the story was told. He really liked the good-versus-evil piece that is brewing, and the climactic showdown that occurs towards the end of the novel.
We are both looking forward to Elijah’s continuing adventures in book two.
Many thanks to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. And if you haven’t checked out his fantastic blog yet, you can visit it over at husbandandhusband.net.