Death’s 10-year-old son and a risky new friend take on a cabal of genocidal racists in this lighthearted debut.
It all starts when a troll escapes from the local reserve and eats Booger Reynolds in the school lunchroom. Jack Hallows’ determination to discover who let the creature out takes him and eager neighbor Nadine Jang (“I’ve read all the Sherlock Holmes and Sammy Keyes books and—”) straight into a mass exodus of inimical ogres and the like. Following the town’s hasty concentration into an evacuation center, there’s a general sorting of the hybrid human residents by sinister Fixers into those of Golden and Black bloodlines (according to what creatures are in their family trees). The Goldens, including a reluctant Nadine, are brusquely bussed off. Jack, a Black, follows. These dismal doings are related by a digressive narrator who turns out to be one of Jack’s absentee dad’s Reaper minions. Just to keep tongue firmly planted in cheek, Windsor also tucks in silly names (Urkel Underbottom is the requisite bully), clueless grown-ups, and numerous cookies while leaving out any mention of blood or gore. As it turns out, Nadine has a secret parent nearly as powerful as Jack’s, and by the end, the two have been trucked off to a very special boarding school called Magic Hallows. Jack appears white, and Nadine seems to be at least partly Asian.
Comfortably familiar and well-executed series tropes make this funny romp one readers will want a sequel to. (Fantasy. 10-13)