Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE DEATH OF YORIK MORTWELL by Stephen Messer

THE DEATH OF YORIK MORTWELL

By Stephen Messer (Author) , Gris Grimly (Illustrator)

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: June 28th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-86858-0
Publisher: Random House

A ghost story that attempts to combine the macabre with the heroic fails to find its footing.

Yorik was dead to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. Having been knocked to his death by his feudal landlord’s spoiled son, our hero leaves behind his destitute little sister, Susan. She finds employment with the manor’s servants, while Yorik likewise finds afterlife employment with the strange silver-haired Princess of the Aviary Glade. Given the task to haunt his former tormentor, Yorik instead discovers that all is not well at Ravenby Manor. Something evil has escaped, and it is slowly but surely taking over the inhabitants. It’s up to one seemingly helpless ghost to find a way to stop the threat before it harms his still-living sibling. To be an odd book is not a bad thing, but there is something so overwhelmingly peculiar about Messer’s mix of fantasy genres (pseudo-Gothic meets the standard saving-the-world format) that the entire kerfuffle comes off as hopelessly overblown. This is helped not at all by its deus ex machina ending. 

With illustrations by the appropriately dour Grimley, this is a mix of two talents who together yield a less-than-superior product. Some art not seen. (Fiction. 9-12)