The Shadows of Rookhaven
The Monsters of Rookhaven won the 2021 KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Honour Award for Fiction. The Shadows of Rookhaven is a well-crafted sequel that explores themes of family, belonging, loss, and difference. We first meet Billy in the human world where, as a misbegotten, he is an outcast. He lives with the Catchpoles, who are not human, and he has taken Meg, another outcast, under his wing. When this unlikely family unit is captured, and Meg’s safety is threatened, Billy agrees to their captors’ demands so that he can save her.
Meanwhile Mirabelle, who is also misbegotten, is in Rookhaven preparing for the once in one hundred years event, the Great Configuration. As Mirabelle’s extended family arrives, she discovers that not everyone looks kindly on her ‘difference’. Having enjoyed the sanctuary of Rookhaven, where all are accepted, Mirabelle is unsettled by the views of the wider community towards misbegottens.
When Billy arrives at Rookhaven, everyone thinks he is there for the Configuration, not realising the threat he poses. As the action unfolds, Mirabelle and Billy must join forces to save those who are important to each of them, while learning about family, belonging, and forgiveness. Kenny also invites the reader to consider what motivates his displaced villains.
Bettison’s excellent illustrations add to the gothic atmosphere that Kenny builds in the reader’s imagination. The excellent cast of monster characters are well written, and the action keeps the reader engaged throughout. This is a must read for fans of gothic adventures.