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9 spooky adventures offer thrills for middle readers

Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 26 2013 3:50 p.m. MDT

With zombies, banshees, ghosts and other creatures, these nine books that have crossed our desks recently have spooky adventures for middle-grade readers.

"GUSTAV GLOOM AND THE FOUR TERRORS," by Adam-Troy Castro, illustrated by Kristen Margiotta, Grosset & Dunlap, $12.99, 240 pages (f) (ages 8-11)

"Gustav Gloom and the Four Terrors" by Adam-Troy Castro and illustrated by Kristen Margiotta, continues the adventures of Gustav Gloom and Fernie What in the Gloom mansion.

Despite Fernie's last heart-stopping adventure in the Gloom mansion, Gustav persuades her safety-conscious father to enter the Gloom mansion with his children to rescue Gustav's father from Lord Obsidian, the ruler of the Dark Country.

The children must venture into the Pit room and face the People Taker hoping now to rescue not only Gustav's father, but Mr. What as well.

There is no offensive language, but there are some fighting and violence, and the adventures at times are dark and intense.

— Rosemarie Howard

"UNDEAD ED AND THE DEMON FREAKSHOW," by Rotterly Ghoulstone, Razorbill, $10.99 (f) (ages 8-12)

"Undead Ed and the Demon Freakshow" is a novel starring Ed Bagley, an undead zombie. Ed's nemesis, Kambo Cheapteeth, has demonic powers and is after Ed's soul.

With the devil's fingers attached to his hand, Ed often finds himself at odds with the actual devil as the two fight for control of his body and mind.

"Undead Ed and the Demon Freakshow" does not have profanity, but it portrays violence and possible murder. The book describes an undead being ripped apart and shows drawings of limbless bodies and a decapitated head.

Rotterly Ghoulstone is the pseudonym of a British author.

— Elizabeth Reid

"THE BOOK OF ELSEWHERE, Vol. 4: The Strangers," by Jacqueline West, illustrated by Poly Bernatene, Dial, $16.99, 320 pages (f) (ages 8 and up)

The adventure continues for Olive, Rutherford, Morton and their feline friends in the latest volume of the Elsewhere novels, "The Strangers."

Halloween is the perfect night for something to go magically wrong, and the large, old stone house that used to belong to the evil, scheming McMartin family, is the ideal setting.

"The Strangers" includes Jacqueline West's wit and prose along with beautiful illustrations to help the story come alive.

There are new mysteries to solve, villains to discover, and questions of trust in this wonderful addition to the Elsewhere series that leaves room for another volume to come.

The language in the story is clean.

— Tara Creel

"THE CREATURE FROM THE SEVENTH GRADE: Sink or Swim," by Bob Balaban, illustrated by Andy Rash, Viking, $15.99, 253 pages (f) (ages 9-12)

In Bob Balaban's "The Creature from the Seventh Grade: Sink or Swim," the second in this duology, Charlie Drinkwater is poised at the brink of disaster — and Stevenson Middle School's terrifying swimming pool.

When Charlie, who is also known as The Only Mutant Dinosaur in the Seventh Grade thanks to being descended from mutated dinosaurs, is falsely accused of suspicious stealing, he and his loyal friends are out to prove his innocence, even though it would be easier to confess to something he didn't do.

Charlie has to decide between keeping a promise and clearing his name. He may be afraid of many things, but a promise-breaker Charlie is not.

There are multiple instances of bullying, both physical and verbal, but the language is otherwise clean.

— Karen Schwarze

"LOCKWOOD & CO.: The Screaming Staircase," by Jonathan Stroud, Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, 400 pages (f) (ages 10 and up)

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