This book is a wonderful and frightful adventure like nothing I've ever read before. I first noticed it while organizing the middle reader series books in the children's department. There it was, all alone in the series section, with its promising blue-grey cover of Gustav and his shadow. I hadn't heard anything about it at all, but I knew immediately that I wanted to love it.
What loves a good scare. She dreams of living in a creepy old house full of shadows. So when she moves in across the street from Gusav Gloom, she is immediately drawn to his giant, black house, with its dark yard and blackened windows. On her first night in her new home, her cat runs across the street and into Gustav’s house. Fernie goes after it, not knowing the dangers (and adventures) that await her inside the big, black house. She and Gustav are soon making a mad dash through the house to escape the People Taker, who has taken up residence there. He plans to take Fernie and her family and drop them into The Pit that leads to the Shadow World.
The cover may have drawn me in, but the characters kept me reading. Gustav and Fernie are at once lovable and admirable characters that made the book hard to put down. Of course the action and plot were wonderful and I really, really wanted to know what would happen, but the thing that I loved more than anything else were those two. Gustav, who is such a lonely little boy, starts to realize what it means to have a real friend. He’s never even eaten real food before, or had a real hug. The shadows that are his friends in the house hope that Fernie can change all of that, but first he has to save her from the People Taker.
Castro has a wonderful sense of humor. It’s a kind of humor that is not always apparent in kid’s books. It’s the kind of humor that kids, adults, and Krystas can appreciate. Fernie’s Father is obsessed with safety and always paranoid that his kids will get hurt, but still fails to see that a maniac in a chef’s hat is not really going to feed him pancakes, but instead try and take his family. Fernie is obviously upset that the People Taker is trying to hurt her family, but she’s deeply offended that he has no intention to feed them said pancakes. Castro also has an appreciation and an understanding of the humorous, yet lovable, nature of cats, which is always a big hit with me.
Turns out I picked this book up just in time, as the second book in the series is due out in only a few days. I can’t wait to get my hands on Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault! Maybe I’ll finally find out more about the mysterious Lord Obsidian, or perhaps more about Gustav’s history. Whatever is in the book, I’ll certainly be reading it under the covers by flashlight.