A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
No one in this story is really admirable. Some of the humor is a bit gruesome.
Violence & Scariness
A fight. Selwyn is trapped in a cave with decaying bodies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An old man leers at a young woman. All of the men leer at a barmaid.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Scenes of drinking in a bar.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the author has a decidedly dark sense of humor. The scene where Selwyn is left to die in a tomb filled with decaying corpses, though leavened with that humor, may still be a bit much for some young readers.
Is It Any Good?
Selwyn may be the protagonist, but it's Farold (and Elswyth, when she's around) who holds the reader's attention. Selwyn is just the straight-man to Farold's delightful combination of petulance, snide sarcasm, whiny self-centeredness, deviousness, and good sense, all coming out of the mouth of a bat (and later a goldfinch, and then a duck).
Vivian Vande Velde has taken a classic mystery (red herrings, multiple suspects, a man wrongly accused) and added a touch of magic, a bit of the supernatural, and a dark sense of humor. The result is the author's specialty -- lightweight fun from start to finish. The mystery is nicely balanced to provide clues without being too predictable, and when the mystery slows, the humor fills in to keep things humming along.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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