By age thirteen, the list of nasty foster homes Goff had lived in was longer than he was old. He'd given up on having friends long ago. He survived by keeping his head down, hiding from bullies, ignoring teasing morons, and pouring himself into earning a Scholarship to Amworth Academy, a place he hoped he could finally call home. When transferred to Spraksville, a town with a history of witchcraft, it was just more of the same to him -- until the stone gargoyles started talking to him. That changed everything.
With the help of a few unexpected friends, he discovers that ending up in Spraksville wasn't accidental. Thirteen generations back, Goff’s ancestor stopped a maniacal dark wizard from performing an ancient ritual to become invincible. Now, due to magical laws, Goff is the one who must stop the present-day counterpart living in Spraksville -- Harkland Mathers XIII -- from performing the same ritual on Halloween night. The problem is that the Mathers clan placed a diabolical curse on Goff's family tree to make them as magical as broken kitchen appliances. Basically, Goff opposing Mathers is like a box turtle taking on a T-Rex.
As Halloween approaches, Mathers magically seals Spraksville off to escape and transforms the adults into an army of soul-sucking ghouls. Stopping the ritual seems impossible as the sky boils crimson at sunset. No one in town will survive, and the rest of the world will fall into darkness. The stakes couldn’t be higher, and for Goff, the odds couldn’t be worse.
Each character—both magical and human—stands out in an engaging way, ensuring relatability for young readers. Kids who normally can’t get along end up working together to save their town, and the real magic of this story is Gracely’s skill in showing readers that anyone can be a hero. These misfits’ antics are equal parts bewitching and entertaining: a skeleton from science class comes alive, Goff’s best friend is a stuffed cat that’s resurrected at night, and readers will adore Goff’s friend Majesty, who gives him magical abilities, although she isn’t too well-versed in how to do it.
Gracely ensures the story never slows, with constant action and new developments hidden around every corner. Goff and his friends don’t just fight a bad guy; they also solve the mystery of who he is and how the past can help them save the future. Whether it’s running from scary henchmen, seeking advice from gargoyles, time traveling, or figuring out why the adults in town are disappearing, Gracely manages to sneak in friendship alongside the adventure. Readers will be drawn in quickly and never want to get out.
Takeaway: A group of young friends on an action-packed magical adventure young readers won’t want to put down.
Great for fans of: Victoria Aveyard’s Blade Breaker, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A