Chance Bee Jeopard’s summer goal is to dig the deepest hole in Starling, Texas.
The hole is an impressive 7 ½ feet deep when the 12-year-old white boy’s shovel strikes a pipe, and out of the pipe flies an alarming letter. The 1.8 million patients and staff of the 955-year-old St. Philomene’s Infirmary for Magical Creatures are in mortal danger. A human carrying a lethal virus is on the loose, and Chance must race to get the wayward letter, which contains the cure, to its addressee—the one inhabitant of St. Philomene’s who can save the lives of every creature within. With the help of his skeptic sister, crimson-haired Pauline Dearie Jeopard, and her goth pal, Mersey Marsh (both are white), the risk-taking Chance knows he can do it. The infirmary is over 6,000 stories—nearly 10 miles—deep, a half-mile wide, and a half-mile long, and it is populated by both familiar supernatural creatures such as vampires, ghouls, and zombies and those specific to St. Philomene’s cleverly drawn world, such as militant Balliopes, elflike Deviklopts, and resourceful Geckasofts. The omniscient narrator moves with ease among Chance, Pauline, Meresy, and several secondary characters. The infirmary’s many species make up a diverse world, while aboveground, a few of Chance’s friends have names that suggest they are children of color.
A hilarious romp through a new underground world. (Fantasy. 8-14)