Three preteens discover the secret spooky history of their small town in this debut YA novel.
Twelve-year-old Joseph Sebastian leads a ho-hum life in the town of Majestic Hollow. His older brother, Cameron, is his parents’ favorite; his younger brother, Sammy, is the baby of the family. But Joseph is stuck in the middle, trying to be noticed while also staying out of trouble. He dreams of the day he can leave his sleepy town, until he visits his local cemetery and meets Cole, a teenage runaway. The two quickly form a bond, and Cole tells Joseph about a secret room in a mausoleum, where they find dust that can make a person fly. However, the boys soon encounter Belzore, an evil, lizardlike creature who claims that the boys have something he wants. Cole and Joseph discover that they’re both connected to three families—the Sebastians, the Martins and the Dallangers—that have been protecting Majestic Hollow for generations. Can the kids, with the help of classmate Vidonia Finkle, figure out exactly what Belzore wants and save their tiny hamlet while also fighting off Belzore’s monsters? Veil’s (Psychomanteum, 2014, etc.) novel gets off to a slow start; in the beginning, Joseph seems like a typical preteen brat who’s mean to his brother, gets detention in school and can’t wait to get the heck out of Majestic Hollow. But alongside the supernatural motif, something wonderful happens: Joseph grows up, and this personal growth becomes one of the most satisfying aspects of the novel. The boy learns that the world doesn’t revolve around him and that putting other people first can be just as rewarding as looking out for himself. Overall, Veil’s vividly imaginative tale is an entertaining romp through monster lore, with vampires, werewolves and witches all making appearances. It reads as a love letter to the classic horror stories, refreshed for a modern young audience with plenty of folklore and a few cloves of garlic. There’s plenty of room for a sequel or two here, and they would surely be welcomed.
A lively, riveting monster tale
that’s fit for children and adults alike.