Following From the Grave (2016), Frank and the misfits face a plot against them and bully Malcolm struggles with his family secret.
Seventh-grade troll Malcolm McNastee is devastated that his father didn’t actually die a hero and instead was exiled to Exxillium, a place of shame for inferior “misfit” monsters. Malcolm’s father has been newly rescued by Frankenstein monster Frank (a misfit due to his not-so-scary blue skin and fastidious ways) and his sixth-grade friends. Chapters alternate between Frank and Malcolm, with Frank keeping secret his revolutionary activities and worrying about a missing friend, and Malcolm grappling with his father’s status as a hated outcast and also doing evil Principal Snaggle’s bidding. Snaggle has a plan to send the Odd Monsters Out class on a field trip to the Shadowlands during a dangerous storm in hopes that none of them will return. Several of the story’s elements—the principal’s plot to kill students, a storyline about aggressive conformity, a dream that Malcolm has about sending the misfits through a human shredder, and even some suicidal ideation—are at odds with cutesy monster-themed names and puns (Moanday, Tooshday, Shocktober, and, leaving the calendar behind, “horrorcane” and “slybrary,” for instance). The vast majority of the tale is buildup, with the titular trip over in a blink, to be quickly followed by setup for the next book.
Poor pacing, jerky plot, uneven content: skip. (Fantasy/horror. 8-12)