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The Monsters of Rookhaven

The Monsters of Rookhaven

Padraig Kenny
Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 9781529050509

Set at the end of World War II, brother and sister Tom and Gem find themselves orphaned and on the run. They have been moving from town to town, having had to escape from their cruel and wicked uncle. They are now doing whatever they can to survive.

Whilst on the run they find themselves lost and alone in a dark forest. Cold, sick and frightened they try to find shelter for the night. As they wander the forest they are drawn to a large manor house. Unbeknown to Tom and Gem, the magical shield or 'glamour' that surrounds the manor house has been torn. This shield has been protecting the mysterious family that lives inside Rookhaven for centuries.

The children are quickly discovered by one of the residents of the manor; the kind and caring Mirabelle. Against her family's wishes, Mirabelle must persuade them that the right thing to do is to take care of the children until their health is restored. Mirabelle soon becomes friends with Tom and Gem. Whilst Mirabelle's family life is very unlike anything the children have seen before - her family members are, shall we say on the monstrous side - they all make the effort to take care of Tom and Gem during their time of need.

Meanwhile, in the nearby village a stranger has arrived. The sinister and manipulative Mr Pheeps who will, by all means necessary get into the manor at Rookhaven to get what he wants.

This novel is stunning. I absolutely loved it from the very first page. Kenny has created an amazing plot that will take the reader on a wonderful journey, full of chills, twists, turns and surprises. His use of multiple narrators is just perfection. This allows the reader to begin to understand the many complex characters that inhabit this weird and wonderful gothic world.

It also allows us an insight into each of the individuals' own personal feelings and worries. From the outside, these beautifully drawn characters may look like monsters but deep down they have thoughts and feelings and worries just like 'normal' human beings.

Bettison's illustrations are beautiful and they really enhance and bring to life this powerful story.

The Monsters of Rookhaven is wonderfully dark, with lots of thrills, chills and with some amazing and grotesque monsters to boot. However, it is also a novel that is moving and thought-provoking. It is a tale about loss, friendship and trust. A superb read just in time for those cold, dark winter nights. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

352 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Julie Broadbent, school librarian


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