Mirabelle lives with her unusual family in Rookhaven. She and her family are, to put it simply, monsters. They live in a mansion, hidden away (thanks to a protection spell) from the outside world of humans. However, the nearby village and the Rookhaven monsters maintain a generations old truce: the townsfolk will keep the monsters’ existence a secret, if the monsters promise to never enter the town or hurt one of the humans. However, one night, out-of-towners and runaway siblings, Jem and Tom, accidentally find their way into Rookhaven territory…
This is an exciting new addition to the literary monster canon. In ways, Kenny pays homage to the endearing Addams Family and The Munsters, with a dark Tim Burton-esque touch for extra creepiness. And yet, Kenny’s creatures are original – and there is certainly room for them in the hearts of gothic monster fans. These characters are a welcome addition to children’s fantasy literature, and the book is an excellent introduction for pre-teen readers interested in the world of gothic fiction.
While many of the characters are loveable in their weird way, Kenny has also created a disturbing, monstrous villain, who makes for a chilling read. Bettison’s illustrations are eerie and playful, yet still leave much to the reader’s imagination. And Kenny does not rely heavily on the monster trope to tell his story. At the heart of this tale is a timely and pertinent message about tolerance, acceptance, and not allowing our fear of difference to turn to hate. 10–12, 12–14