A heartwarming friendship tale—played out amid carpets of chittering insects, torture both corporal and psychological, the odd bit of cannibalism and like ghoulish delights.
Being practically perfect in every way and someone who “never walked anywhere without extreme purpose,” 12-year-old Victoria resolutely sets about investigating the sudden disappearance of her scruffy classmate and longtime rehabilitation project Lawrence. After troubling encounters with several abruptly strange and wolfish adults in town, including her own parents, she finds herself borne into the titular Home by a swarm of 10-legged roachlike creatures. This abduction quickly leads to the discovery that it’s not an orphanage but a reform school. There, for generations, local children have had qualities deemed undesirable beaten or frightened out of them by sweet-looking, viciously psychotic magician/headmistress/monster bug Mrs. Cavendish. Victoria is challenged by a full array of terror-tale tropes, from disoriented feelings that things are “not quite right” and “[s]harp, invisible sensations, like reaching fingers” to dark passageways lined with rustling roaches and breakfast casseroles with chunks of…meat.
A thoroughgoing ickfest, elevated by vulnerable but resilient young characters and capped by a righteously ominous closing twist. (Horror fantasy. 11-13)