Published by Pushkin Children’s Books, 2019.
12-year-old Edwin has a new baby sister, Mandoline, and he’s rather put out by her arrival and the disruption she’s caused. Looking for someone to talk to, he answers a peculiar newspaper advert for a pen-pal. Edwin gets much more than he bargained for when Lanthorne Ghules replies to the ad and then later makes an unannounced entrance through Edwin’s wardrobe and into his life.
Lanthorne is a unusually pallid child. In fact, everything about him is grey in colour: his skin, teeth and clothes. The dead world he comes from is equally washed out and drained of colour. Edwin unwittingly enters this dreary world one morning when he is pulled through a portal that’s behind a cupboard door in his bedroom. In contrast to the inhabitants of this dead world, Edwin – with his bright skin – seems to glow. They have a term for his kind there: Shiner.
This dead grey world is a dark world, dingy at best. Its inhabitants cannot abide light and the houses and towns are very dimly lit, if at all. Edwin finds it extremely difficult to find his way around. But that’s not the worst of it. People from this dead world only eat rotting food, the mouldier and more decayed the better. The smell from their store cupboards is putrid and almost knocks Edwin out. Then there’s Lanthorne’s vicious, bullying Auntie Necra and the two-headed monster in Lanthorne’s bedroom cupboard. It’s no surprise that Edwin is desperate to get home.
He manages to cross between worlds and make it back home but so too does evil Auntie Necra. She kidnaps Mandoline and takes her back to the dead world. The race is then on for Edwin and Lanthorne to rescue Mandoline. Along the way the pair face dangerous journeys, betrayals and imprisonment. Their quest takes them to Morting, a remote town Out There, where the inhabitants still practise the ‘Old Ways’. Edwin makes the chilling and shocking discovery of just exactly what this entails and what terrible fate awaits him and his sister.
The Dead World of Lanthorne Ghules is a grisly tale and not one for the faint hearted. It’s a scary story with plenty of gruesome details. The tension and terror mount as the story gathers pace towards its exciting denouement. A gripping and action-packed read.
Suitable for children aged 8+
Thank you to Pushkin Children’s Books for sending me this book to review.