Tuesday, September 1, 2020

MG review of Embassy of the Dead by Will Mabbitt, illustrations by Taryn Knight

Embassy of the Dead by Will Mabbitt, illustrations by Taryn Knight
Format:  E-ARC
Publisher:  Walker Books U.S. 

Number of Pages:  272
Publishing:  September 8th, 2020 
 (first published June 14th,2018)
Source:  Netgalley

Opening Line:  "There are some things in life and death that are certain.  One of those things is that a man digging a hole in the dead of night is definitely up to no good."

Jake Green is getting ready for a school trip to study rock formations with his best friend, Sab, a welcome break from his parents who are splitting up.  Hurrying to get home, Jake takes a short cut through a dark alley where he runs into Stiffkey, a man resembling an undertaker.  Stiffkey hands him a package and gives him an ominous message to protect the box before he fades away.  Like any curious twelve-year-old, Jake wants to know what's inside the box, and upon opening it discovers a severed human finger.  Meanwhile, at the Embassy of the Dead news of Jake's opening the container has spread leading the Embassy to summon one of their best Reapers, Mawkins from the Afterworld to drag Jake into the Eternal Void for his crimes.  At the same moment, Stiffkey comes to the realization that Jake wasn't the intended recipient of the box and his mistake will now cause them both to be banished to the Eternal Void unless they can set things right with the Embassy.

Will Mabbitt is the author of the Mabel Jones series, a sweet little series about a young pirate girl who goes on many adventures.  When I saw the cover of his latest book on Netgalley, I was instantly intrigued by the title, and details like the one on this cover always seem to grab my attention.  For starters, there are the dark silhouettes of the two men, one with a top hat holding a shovel and the other with a bunny rabbit.  Then there's the skull in the title, alluding to something spooky and really what is up with that rabbit?  So many questions.

The Embassy of the Dead is an interesting organization whose primary purpose is to keep the living of the Earthly Plane and the dead from the Afterworld protected from one another.  Jake is an unwilling bystander who gets drawn into their business when he accepts the box from Stiffkey.  Stiffkey is a kind-hearted ghost who didn't realize he had the wrong person.  To him, Jake was one of the sensitive ones or gifted when it comes to seeing ghosts.  Stiffkey for his part was just waiting out his retirement from the Embassy until he could be Undone,  or til he came to terms with his death so that he could finally move on to the Afterworld.  He feels bad about getting Jake into this situation and tries to help him find a way to appease the Embassy.   Partway to save his own skin so he can still be Undone and partly because Jake just seems like a nice kid.  Although he does try to rectify the situation, Stiffkey's already too late because Mawkins begins to hunt them down with his gruesome sounding BoneWulf's forged from decaying bits of flesh.  Yep, I'll admit they're kinda creepy.  Plus there's some evil forces at work that makes things interesting.  I like how Jake and Stiffkey's adventures take them on a highspeed chase across the country in Jake's dad's camper van and especially like all the other characters they meet along the way.  Personally, I would have liked to see more of Bad Penny, Stiffkey's former associate, the summoners, poltergeists, even the ghost fox that Jake meets.  There is lots to love in this brief introduction to Mabbitt's new series, it's fast-paced, filled with plenty of action and the black and white illustrations by Taryn Knight add to the creepiness of the story.  A sure delight for fans of stories with ghosts.                     

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a great ghost story to read in October. Love the first line. Glad you enjoyed it.