A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A lot of local detail about Boston and its history -- some of it a bit embellished, as the author explains in an afterword, which also includes suggested resources and other places to learn more.
Strong messages about family, friendship, loyalty, courage, doing your job well, and looking out for the people in your care.
Positive Role Models
Penhallow has an unswerving, self-sacrificing loyalty to his task of protecting his building's residents, showing courage and suffering injuries in the process. His newfound friend Viola offers support, help, and wise advice.
Violence & Scariness
Narrative voice is light, but there's a lot of violence: the mysterious killing of Penhallow's two friends; the father of young girl Hetty has recently died. Killing, soul-snatching, and battle with dark forces loom large; Penhallow defeats evil beings by beating, maiming, and devouring them, and in one case throws up a half-digested monster to carry a message. Assorted undead beings everywhere; several scenes involve bones and cemeteries. In a scene that haunts Penhallow, evil beings get past him and carry off part of a baby's soul.
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Some "butt" and poop humor.
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Products & Purchases
A creepy scene involves a Ouija board.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some scenes take place in bars and taverns, past and present, but the characters aren't drinking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that author Paul Durham packs a lot of quirkiness -- and also gross-out humor and gore -- into The Last Gargoyle, the tale of a stone sculpture inhabited by a guardian spirit, who's definitely got his work cut out for him keeping dark forces from his building. There's a lot of heart (and humor) as protective Penhallow, reeling from the sudden killing of his friends by evil beings, struggles to protect those in his care and makes a new, mysterious friend. There's also a lot of slashing, devouring, and battles to the death with monsters and evil spirits, which may be a bit much for younger kids; while the publisher recommends the book for ages 8 and up, we think it's a better fit for slightly older kids.
Is It Any Good?
Paul Durham's darkly sweet tale of a stone sculpture tasked with keeping evil forces from the Boston apartment building he guards is quirky, engaging, and often gory. The devouring, slashing, dismemberment, and the like are often related with wry humor by narrator Penhallow, aka The Last Gargoyle, but may be a bit much for sensitive readers. There's a lot of appeal as the hero battles monsters, seeks to learn more of his own origins, strives to do his job well, and struggles with the possibility of friendship in a world where he's the only one of his kind.
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.