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From the Kairos Files series, volume 1

by Shaun David Hutchinson

Pub Date: Feb. 6th, 2024
ISBN: 9780593646298
Publisher: Labyrinth Road

When bullying triggers Hector’s unsuspected ability to turn invisible, it seems like a superpower—but he’s not invisible to the monster lurking at school.

At home, sixth grader Hector faces bullying stepbrothers and a stepfather who values sports over piano. He was reconciled to his Catholic boys’ school thanks to best friend Blake—until Hector asked Blake to be his boyfriend, and Blake (despite having two moms) turned into a homophobic bully. After Hector discovers his power of invisibility while hiding from Blake, he encounters former pupil Orson, who’s been stuck there for years being invisible and pursued by the tentacled gelim, who entraps vulnerable students and feeds on their fears. As a gay boy and a Black boy (respectively) in a predominantly white school, Hector and Orson are easy targets. Wanting to save Orson and defeat the gelim, Hector finds allies in school librarian Mr. Morhill and Samantha, Mr. Morhill’s niece, a fellow student others perceive as a boy; Orson is also an active participant who supports Hector. Throughout his ordeals, Hector still hopes Blake will return to normal. This well-structured story is threaded with themes of misjudgment, misunderstanding, forgetting, and forgiveness. Both the visible and invisible worlds are evocatively described, and the characters are believably flawed. Despite mitigating circumstances, Hector’s swift forgiveness of Blake may sit uneasily with some readers, and while the gelim is suitably terrifying, the convoluted details about how it functions may be confusing.

Invisibility offers no protection in this well-paced, multilayered horror story.

(Paranormal. 9-12)