In this debut middle-grade adventure, a young witch learns the value of teamwork and sacrifice from his favorite teacher.
Elliott Keene is a third grader in the small, nonmagical town of Wolf’s End. His parents, Greta and Christian, are witches from a magical place called Moonstone. They all live in the ordinary, human world under orders from Enchantra, Moonstone’s ruler, so that they can protect average people from magical harm. Sloan Moonbeam, another guardian witch, is Elliott’s teacher. He begins to suspect that Elliott is psychic, and he warns the boy that he must keep his powers secret, even from his best friend, Lucas. Elliott’s life grows more complicated when Mr. Moonbeam and his parents learn from Syballine, another guardian, that Noir, ruler of Moonstone’s Dark Lands, is hunting for the Halloween crystal—an artifact that would allow him to unleash a horde of monsters and potentially rule both Moonstone and the nonmagical world. Thankfully, Noir can’t enter Wolf’s End, but he has his sights set on kidnapping Syballine’s talented daughter, Sabrina. Mr. Moonbeam takes Sabrina into his care, placing her in his classroom, while the guardians hide the Halloween Crystal. Greta looks into the crystal and sees the Mossy Mansion on Rose Hill, so the magicians go there on a mission—but they seem to encounter Noir’s agents at every turn. Cowan’s middle-grade fantasy celebrates Halloween as both a colorful holiday and as a spiritual event; indeed, the plot revolves around stopping Noir on that night—a time when the “veil between the two worlds is paper thin.” Sabrina is a well-developed, egocentric character who notes that, “I’ve always gotten everything I’ve ever wanted.” But later, when Elliott complains about being an imperfect witch, his teacher says, “Nothing worthwhile comes easy,” a statement that remains valid beyond childhood. Cowan also engagingly reveres the seasons—especially fall: “Life is nature and nature is life.” A dazzling, creature-filled finale leaves possibilities open for further adventures.
A tale with plenty of spooky trappings and valuable lessons for young people.