Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Carnival of Lost Souls

Quimby, Laura. The Carnival of Lost Souls
Amulet see Abrams, Harry 2010 342p 16.95
978-0-8109-8980-1 ms/hs Supernatural E-BN
When Jack’s foster father tricks him into taking his place in an underground world of the walking dead, Jack must use his Houdini-like abilities to entertain the dead. He bides his time as he figures out how to escape and return to his life on earth.
People really do sell their souls to the devil, in this case, to Mussini, the magician leader of the Forest of the Dead. Protagonist Jack, a foster kid who can’t seem to find a good match in a foster parent, learns this when his newest foster dad, the Professor, tricks him into taking his place in a world of the dead located somewhere between life and the afterlife. While there, Jack’s adventures vary from learning which friends he can trust to falling in love with Violet who is one of the dead, and from perfecting his magic skills to defeating Mussini and returning to life aboveground. Jack’s journey is not an easy one, especially with the Death Wranglers surrounding the Forest. Their job is to capture anyone who tries to escape. Mussini is a powerful antagonist who is like Fagan of Dickens’s Great Expectations. He controls his world with a sinister command of magic and his forceful nature. There is “kid appeal” that is sure to please young readers! Laura Quimby instinctively knows how to entertain with her combination of vivid descriptions of the dead, wonderful characterizations and a plot that moves forward at a perfect pace. She makes fantasy seem real, especially when she includes a parallel story about master escape artist Houdini. The allusion adds a unique aspect to the plot, and the reader will want to run to the computer to research Houdini after reading the last page! With a border around each double set of pages that looks like the inside of a cave, the reader actually feels like he/she is in each scene. To the chase scene in the end, the reader participates in this novel.
There are two errors: p. 155, “use” should be “used” in the sentence, “You’ll get used to the dead.” p. 289, “were” should be “we’re”. The apostrophe is missing.
This book is original and pulses with excitement. It is perfect for readers of all ages, but its appeal lies in its call to young readers. Middle school and high school libraries need a copy of this book! Squaresky, Martha
foster boy is thrown into world of walking dead

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