In this promising series opener, a homicidal maniac stalks two children through a spooky old house that’s far larger inside than outside.
Newly moved in across the street, 10-year-old Fernie chases her errant cat through the front door of the mist-wreathed mansion one night, quickly losing herself in a seemingly endless tangle of dark halls and dim rooms. There she meets Gustav, a pale and perpetually somber age-mate who explains that the house is home to millions of unattached shadows—and that she is in immediate danger from the People Taker, evil minion of the Dark Country’s would-be ruler Lord Obsidian. The ensuing flight takes the two young people through a library containing all the books never written, a room filled with the shadows of all the dinosaurs that ever were and like repositories to a climactic struggle with the genial (as it turns out) villain at the lip of the Pit leading to the Dark Country. Along the way Fernie discovers that though shadows are a little more substantial within the house, even in the outside world they are not really attached to solid bodies and actually have volition and lives of their own. Who would have guessed? Margiotta opens each chapter with appropriately atmospheric scenes of big-eyed waifs against undulating backgrounds.
The author leaves much to be explored and explained in future episodes, but fans of Unfortunate Events will be willing to wait. (Fantasy. 10-12)