Twelve-year-old Bailey Buckleby is a monster hunter, but unlike his father, who sells them for profit, Bailey seeks to understand them.
When he is not in seventh grade or texting his maybe soon-to-be girlfriend, Savannah, Bailey can be found staffing the counter at Buckleby and Son’s Very Strange Souvenirs. In addition to the usual saltwater taffy, snow globes, and tacky T-shirts, the Bucklebys stock fairies, a harpy, hoop snakes, and what Bailey’s father claims is a Swiss Troll. But during a routine extermination job, Bailey and his father encounter Axel Pazuzu, a dangerous, dog-headed adversary who is determined to take down Buckleby and Son’s and steal the troll for himself. While Bailey and his father share the same rusty hair and bright green eyes, their approaches to life are nothing alike. Bailey wants to communicate with the monsters and help them return to their homes, but his father is determined to keep them in cages. Bailey is brave and intelligent, and Savannah is a girl to be reckoned with, but they seem unreasonably levelheaded and adept even when battling 3,000-year-old monsters, which depresses tension significantly. Wacky humor and an unusual cast of characters keep the pages turning anyway, but a lackluster story and a flat ending may prove disappointing. The human characters present white.
Monsters and mayhem—but unfortunately mundane. (Fantasy. 8-12)