The Orphan of Awkward Falls
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this comic gothic tale features an insane murderer who eats his victims, laboratory-manufactured monsters, and adults who are not very smart. However, the scariness is underscored with humor, and readers experienced with the dark wit of Lemony Snicket will understand that the main characters are not in any fatal danger.
What's the story?
When Josephine moves to Awkward Falls she is immediately intrigued by the gloomy town's mystery. Who is the striking couple in the old photograph she finds in her bedroom? What's going on in the mansion next door? Her curiosity leads her to Thaddeus, a cloned genius who lives on hot chocolate and candy while performing operations on dead pets to bring them back to life with spare animal parts. When a murderer escapes the town's Asylum for the Dangerously Insane, it's Thaddeus he's after, and it's up to Josephine to save him.
Is it any good?
Josephine is likable, and the contrast of Thaddeus's scientific intelligence with his naiveté is funny. The town of Awkward Falls, with its sauerkraut festival and oddball residents, is another source of humor. However, as is often the problem with comical novels of this sort, none of the characters seems real enough to be fully engaging, and the illustrations, meant to add interest and a layer of gothic horror, are often so dark that it's difficult to discern their details. Still, the mystery of Thaddeus' background is intriguing, and deliciously creepy events unfold at an exciting clip as Josephine puts the clues together. The combat between idiot murderer, strange monsters, and clever children is particularly satisfying. Though it's by no means innovative, the book may appeal to fans of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events or Mayrose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about whether the humor in this book outweighs the horror. Did you find Fetid Stenchley truly scary? What was funny about him? Did you ever feel sorry for him? Why?
What is the scariest thing about this book? What is the funniest?
What do you think of the series of illustrations that open and close the book? Should they have been accompanied by words? Did they add to your enjoyment of the story?