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Gustav Gloom and the People Taker by Adam-Troy Castro
Cover Artist: Kristen Margiotta
Review by Gayle Surrette
Grosset & Dunlap Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780448458335
Date: 16 August 2012 List Price $12.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

I remember as a young child being afraid of the dark. No, not really the dark, but the shadows in my room. They moved and creeped about from one place to another. I slept often with the covers over my head -- even when I wasn't trying to hide the flashlight I used to read after lights-out.

Adam-Troy Castro's Gustav Gloom and the People Taker will make adult readers think back to their childhood night-time fears and younger readers will get a delicious chilly thrill reading the adventures of Fernie What and Gustav Gloom. Of course, that may make younger readers just a bit more observant of shadows when they finish the book.

Gustav Gloom lives in the only house in Sunnyside Terrance that doesn't adhere to the community covenants. Once, a while back, Mr. Note tried to demand that the covenants be met but he ran screaming out of Gloom House and thereafter lives in a home for the overly nervous (without his shadow). No one else has tried to do anything about the house or the boy who lives there.

When the What family, Mr. What and his daughters Pearlie and Fernie, moved in next door, Fernie noticed Gustav Gloom standing in his yard. She thought his house looked interesting and he looked -- lonely. That night the cat and his shadow had a terrible fight and when the cat tried to escape, Fernie had no choice but to go after Harrington, even when he ran into the Gloom yard and then into the Gloom House.

Fernie and Gustav's adventure is bizarre, wonderful, and totally engrossing. The word play, puns and the clever, sometimes tongue-in-cheek descriptions will entertain young readers and adults who are young at heart.

You can get a taste from these first two paragraphs:

The neighbors thought Gustav Gloom was the unhappiest little boy in the world.

None of them bothered to talk to him to see if there was anything they could do to make his life better. That would be "getting involved." But they could look, and as far as they could see, he always wore his mouth in a frown, he always stuck his lower lip out as if about to burst into tears, and he always dressed in a black suit with a black tie as if about to go to a funeral or just wanting to be prepared in case one broke out without warning.

Highly recommended.

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