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Reviewed by:
  • Gloom Town by Ronald L. Smith
  • Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor

Smith, Ronald L. Gloom Town; illus. by Celeste Knudsen. Clarion, 2020 [288p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-328-84161-2 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-358-16449-4 $9.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 4-6

In the perpetually foggy and aptly named town of Gloom, twelve-year-old Rory takes up a job at Foxglove Manor, despite the rumors that it's haunted by menacing spirits. Lord Foxglove and his creepy butler are threatening but not cruel, so Rory is willing to put up with their eccentricities for the good money—until, that is, he witnesses a strange ritual, finds a human heart buried in the backyard, and narrowly escapes being killed by his employer. Foxglove and his minions are apparently serving a goddess-like being, stealing the shadows of the residents of Gloom, and Rory and pal Izzy have to find a way to stop them. Smith (Hoodoo, BCCB 10/15, The Mesmerist, BCCB 1/17) is a deft hand at creating unforgettable villains, and Foxglove and company are excellent examples as they turn into beastly animals that feast on human bones while their mistress Mara of the Shadows is a darkly powerful, calculating type of evil. Unfortunately, the rest of the characters are stock and the plot rote: Rory and his plucky friend defeat the bad guy and, in the process, learn that Rory has untapped magical powers (forbidden in Gloom) and is the son of the world's most powerful mages. The book closes on Rory setting sail with his father (the "great black mariner" of legend), so readers who enjoyed his adventures here might appreciate the possibility of future swashbuckling exploits. Reviewed from an unillustrated galley. [End Page 229]

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-6766
Print ISSN
0008-9036
Pages
p. 229
Launched on MUSE
2019-12-20
Open Access
No
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