Embassy of the Dead: Hangman's Crossing by Will Mabbitt, illustrations by Taryn Knight
Series: Book Two of The Embassy of the Dead
Publisher: Walker Books US
Number of Pages: 240
Publishing: October 26th, 2021
Opening Line: "Ghosts don't feel the cold."
Jake Green is still alive, just barely, after having averted death on more than one occasion while preventing Fenris from bringing forth the Age of Evil. In the past month, Jake received a postcard summoning him to the Embassy of the Dead. A summons that he's been avoiding, but when the Embassy summons's you, they will find a way to get you to respond. Once at the Embassy, Jake and Cora, his hockey swinging, best friend, who happens to be a ghost learn that they're to become Undoer's, someone who helps ghosts resolve their unfinished business on the Earthly Plane so they can make their transition to the Afterworld. Their first Undoing assignment, Errol Clay, a particularly difficult specter who believes he was betrayed by his brother during a botched robbery attempt. While following a lead at an old warehouse, Cora and Jake stumble upon a plot involving the smuggling of stolen artifacts, the disappearance of Amber Chase, a ghostly Embassy investigator and plans for a plague demon to cross over into the Earthly Plane, putting everyone's life in danger. Hoping to prevent the demon's release from the Afterworld, Cora and Jake travel across the Void, bypass the City of the Dead and have a run in at Hangman's Crossing with a particularly dangerous demon, all to hopefully save the living. Can they figure out who the culprit is behind the evil plot and stop them in time? Or will Jake perish trying?
Mabbitt provides a nice little recap for the first book in the series, but I would encourage to check out The Embassy of the Dead prior to reading Hangman's Crossing. I quite enjoyed the creepiness and humor of this book more than in the first. The worldbuilding around the Afterworld, the City of the Dead and especially Hangman's Crossing was well done. There's something eerie and unsettling about taking that boat across the Void and I just loved the balance of spooky and mystery in this book, trying to figure out who was behind it all. Jake continues to be my favorite character, he truly wants to be helpful, as long as it doesn't put him in danger. Well at least not at first, cause he does face a lot of danger in this book, but he also can't ignore when others are in danger. Also really liked Cora's enthusiasm for adventure, wanting to jump right in and sort of save the world. The story moved along at a really nice, fast moving pace, with plenty of suspenseful moments, the kind you'd expect from a story involving ghosts, demons, shadowfolk and an Embassy for the Dead. So yeah, a few body possessions and the added bonus of one creepy tree and plague demon. A special thanks to Taryn Knight for the illustrations of familiar characters like Stiffkey, and Bad Penny and new people like the boatman from the Void. While the ending was satisfying, I'm happy Mabbitt left room to add in further adventures for Cora and Jake and the possibility of a new member joining their team.