A mysterious reel-to-reel tape player may solve a local mystery, but it may also lead to gravest peril.
Nate would have preferred staying in the city over his family’s move to a creaky, old country house. However, when he finds an old tape machine under the floorboards of his room with an attached note addressed to him and reading “Find him,” things get a bit more interesting. The tapes were recorded long ago by a boy named Walt, who narrated his search for missing local pets and whose story is interleaved with Nate’s. Walt’s investigations take a fantastical turn when the neighborhood fauna, from insects to squirrels, begin to talk. Back in the present, Nate’s new friend, Tabitha, relates the local legends of Walt’s disappearance. (The two timelines are distinguished by black margins for Walt’s story and white margins for Nate’s.) As they dig deeper, the two are drawn into a frightening mystery that thrusts them into a strange world through the gate in Crow’s Woods. Can they find Walt? Will they even survive? Dark Horse author/illustrator Ruth creates a sinister, yet familiar urban fantasy of parallel worlds. Some lettering in the speech bubbles can be difficult to decipher, but the black-and-white panels of spirits, insects, animals and shadows are packed with action and realistic dialogue.
A refreshing fantasy in which not all is spelled out, with tantalizing hints at a sequel. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)