I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Orphan Of Awkward Falls by Keith Graves
Published by Chronicle Books on 2011-10-19
Genres: Horror & Ghost Stories, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Young Adult
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When thirteen-year-old Josephine moves to Awkward Falls she can't help but snoop around the dilapidated mansion next door. Inevitably, she is captured by the house's strange inhabitants: an ancient automaton who serves as a butler, a cat patched together with a few odd parts, and most surprising of all, a boy named Thaddeus Hibble. Meanwhile, Fetid Stenchley the most feared patient in the Asylum for the Dangerously Insane is on the loose after making a dramatic escape, and there is only one thing on his mind...revenge. Unfortunately for Josephine and Thaddeus, he's headed their way. Can these unlikely friends stop Stenchley before it's too late? With a penchant for spooky details, surprising twists, and haunting illustrations, Keith Graves delivers a suspenseful and engaging first novel.
Mad scientists, automatons, and lunatics abound in Keith Graves’ The Orphan Of Awkward Falls, a fun speculative fiction middle grade book. I was totally over the moon to read The Orphan Of Awkward Falls because A) I love books that have orphans in them and B) The Book Smugglers gave it a good review. Hopes were high you guys. Although this book is not making my favorites list any time soon, I did have a good experience reading it. I would not hesitate to recommend that middle school librarians and teachers add this book to their collections, it truly is a fun, bizarre sort of read.
The Orphan Of Awkward Falls by Keith Graves weaves together three different view points, told in third person. First, there is Fetid Stenchley, a hunch back man who has a taste for human flesh. He resides in the insane asylum but just so happens to make his escape out into Awkward Falls, intent on bringing Celsius Hibble, the professor he worked for and eventually murdered back to life. Second, there is Josephine Cravitz, a young girl who has moved all over the place and is totally pissed off about leaving Wisconsin for Manitoba. Her family is very awesome, but she hates moving so much because she finds it hard to make friends.
One night, Josephine sees something strange outside her window and goes to investigate it. Turns out that it is an automaton named Norman who works for a strange orphan named Thaddeus. Y’all, Thaddeus is the third element in our story. He is waiting for his parents to return for him and so, is hiding in his deceased grandfather’s household, the Hibble mansion, so that he won’t have to go back to the orphanage. Thaddeus and Josephine form a strange friendship, but ultimately a beneficial one. Trouble is brewing though, as Fetid is on the loose and out for revenge against a certain toddler, now boy (Thaddeus). It is up to Josephine and Thaddeus to stop Fetid in The Orphan Of Awkward Falls.
Between Thaddeus and Josephine, Josephine is the ring leader. You see, she’s adventurous and curious. She keeps visiting the Hibble mansion despite Thaddeus telling her not to. She inserts herself into Thaddeus’s life to become a real good friend. I will stop you before you assume romance, there is NONE of that in this book. As the two begin to unravel Thaddeus’s mysterious past, it is Josephine who directs the investigation – from talking to Professor Hibble’s ex to finding information at the library, to going on the run when all hell breaks loose, Josephine is the leader. Yet, she never once comes across as overbearing or insufferable. She is great.
As for Thaddeus, he is definitely a strange child. He’s a scientific genius who makes money on the low by patching together and reanimating the pets of old ladies. This actually comes up in a pretty funny scene later in the book. Thaddeus has only two companions, the robot Norman and a cat that talks like a gangster named Felix. He has no sense of nutrition and only eats things like hot chocolate and candy for food. A lonely soul, initially Thaddeus pushes Josephine away, but as you know, they form this awesome friendship that really makes Thaddeus feel included and happy during the book. As a reader, I found Thaddeus absurd, but I liked him.
I love it when middle grade books include villains that are so repugnant and over the top and just BADDIES. Fetid Stenchley is gross and evil and not at all one of those conflicted, inner tormented villain. Hell no. He is bad to the bone. He is a cannibal. He has not a care as to who he kills. I actually liked reading Fetid’s sections because they are so gross and bizarre and hilarious. Well, hilarious if you have a strange sense of humor. Seriously, if you are looking for a villain that will make you go EWWWW and AHHHHH then The Orphan Of Awkward Falls is the book for you.
Disclosure: Review Copy Obtained At BEA 2011 WOOOOOOOW
Other reviews of The Orphan Of Awkward Falls by Keith Graves:
The Book Smugglers – “I love the blend of the macabre with comedy”
Readatouille – “nonstop action, chills and thrills, and quirky characters”
My Favourite Books – “I’d recommend it to any 8-12 year old (and older!) who isn’t afraid of a bit of ick”