A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain.
Telling someone what they want to hear to be happy is not the same as telling the truth. Real friends sometimes disagree, and even argue or fight over something, and that's OK. Apologize when things calm down and try to understand what your friend is saying. Talking about it can help you find common ground and move forward.
Positive Role Models
Herbie and best-friend Violet, both about 12, are good models of courage, perseverance, and teamwork. They each learn from the other's strengths how to balance things out. Herbie's still cautious and likes to think things through first, and Violet would rather spring into action right away, trusting that everything will work out fine. Between them they're able to quickly come up with a plan, or figure a way out of difficulties. Adults in their lives (they're both orphans) are kind, caring, and supportive. The villains are easy to spot, and Herbie handles his overbearing boss well.
There aren't many physical descriptions besides hair color, eye color, and for a few characters, size. In illustrations, all characters seem to be White except Violet, who appears to be a person of color. The first two books in the series mention her dark skin, but this volume only mentions dark, curly hair and brown eyes. One minor adult character uses a wheelchair.
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Violence & Scariness
Kids get in a tussle-type fight with shoving, kicking, and falling on the floor mentioned but not directly described. A kick in the stomach and a kick in the shin. A child's thrown into a pile of furniture and gasps in pain. A child is locked into a hanging cage. An adult has blood smeared all over their face. Illustrations and descriptions of a scary shadow monster that controls people by stealing their shadows. Lots of dark, scary atmospheres and locations with strange noises. The main characters are often in danger, once from a fire during which a man wrapped in burning curtains jumps into the sea and is never found.
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Some calling names using nonsensical and made-up words like "ninny brain" and "dumb muppet."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
One brief mention of adults drinking mulled cider.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Shadowghast continues the spooky fantasy-mystery adventures of two tweens in the Legends of Eerie-on-Sea series. This story is about a local legend that tells of a scary shadow monster who controls people's minds by stealing their shadows using a magic lantern. Both narrator Herbie and his best friend Violet are orphans, so parental loss is a theme. Real-world violence includes some kicking, punches that don't land, and a child locked in a hanging cage. An adult's face smeared with blood is mentioned. Lots of eerie, spooky atmospheres, locations, and sounds, including some time in total darkness. Many characters in danger from a burning building. All scariness and danger has a safe resolution, and no one's injured or permanently harmed. There's some brief calling names with nonsensical and made-up words. A brief mention of adults drinking mulled cider.
Is It Any Good?
This third installment in a planned fantasy-mystery series keeps the charm, suspense, and adventure of the first books, along with heaping doses of creepy atmospheres and a spine-tingling legend. The colorful, eccentric townsfolk from the first two books are back in Shadowghast, and of course the dynamic duo of Herbie and Violet, too. The short chapters with cliffhanger or surprise endings keep the pages turning, and Herbie's quirky, sometimes funny, and always sincere voice make it a great choice for reading aloud.
Big kids and tweens will relate to Herbie and Violet as they figure out what makes them work as a team, how to draw on each other's strengths, and even how to agree to disagree. Hints of an even deeper, darker secret and Herbie's possible connection to it will have fans eager for the next installment.
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.