Cynthia Reeg has crafted a wonderfully clever novel in From the Grave, targeting middle school readers – independent primary monster fans and witty enough to cross over into the secondary arena. Ideal for those who love anything monsterish and who appreciate absurd and clever innuendo and language mashups – this is sure to engage.
The young hero, Frankenstein Frightface Gordon, is totally the wrong shade of ghastly green—pale, baby blue, in fact—and he’s more concerned with keeping his pants neat and tidy than scaring the pants off his victims. He is one of a crew of misfits that do not fit the ‘monster norm’ and are the but of ridicule and bullying – most horribly inflicted by Malcolm McNastee, the bullying troll. When a new law is passed to rid Uggarland of misfits such as Frank, he must decide if he will become the monster his parents can be proud of or be the monster he can be proud of.
Each chapter is prefaced with a quote from the Monster Book of Rules and Frank and his group pretty much fail all of them. Monster Rule #9: A monster’s appearance should incite fear and significant revulsion to scare the socks off mere humans. With Frank’s obsession with neat clothes and carefully groomed hair, alongside his best mummy friend Oliver, who can’t seem to keep his wrappings on, it is no wonder they are the shame of Uggerland and the despair of Principal Snaggle.
Clever language – Frigthnight , Shocktober, Mushington Way, Snotfargle – will keep readers giggling throughout. Shifting points of view between Frank and Malcolm add depth and different points of view. However, there is more to this book than a tale of monsters and a bundle of laughs. Cynthia Reeg harnesses this fiendish world to tell a heartfelt story of not fitting in and being true to yourself. There are lots of great themes and lessons here, particularly about how our society treats people (or monsters) who are outside of the norm and bullying, all made accessible as they are drenched in monster pus, terrifying roars and covered in dirt, grime and bat poop.
Watch out for Monster or Die Book 2: Into the Shadowlands available in October 2017.