Just as I suspected it would, The Joy of Spooking: Fiendish Deeds has earned a place on my list of all time favorites. I love the concept, I love the characters and the storyline is engaging and relevant. But most of all I love P.J.’s writing – it’s my exact kind of slightly dark humor and is full of gems like Joy’s brother Byron’s thoughts when the two meet a filthy but surprisingly friendly old “witch” woman at the bog:
“Byron continued to stare at her suspiciously. He’d read the fairy tales, and such chumminess usually meant a kid-size oven was preheating somewhere nearby.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Joy, Byron and their parents live in Spooking – “the terrible town on the hideous hill.” They don’t exactly fit in with the cookie-cutter residents of Darlington, the sprawling neighbor city where they have to attend school. Joy’s hobby is researching the legend of the bog fiend and the horror writer E.A. Peugeot and she’d really rather have nothing to do with Darlington at all. She does venture there to accompany Byron to a couple of parties (the precocious 8 year old has a crush on a darling of Darlington), and she is forced to confront some of its citizens in her quest to prevent a water park from being built over her beloved bog.
This is a story about preserving diversity – both in nature and in society. But it is far from being preachy – it is fun and exciting with a liberal portion of spookiness. The villain, major assistant Mr. Phipps, is exactly the kind of well-rounded, conflicted fiendish deed doer that makes a juicy character – we get the sense that he was once quite like Joy before something went terribly wrong. I eagerly await the next two books in the planned trilogy to find out more about Mr. Phipps’ background and follow Joy and Byron’s further adventures. Highly recommended to all readers 8 and up.
This book will be out on August 5th – but if you just can’t wait, be sure to enter my contest to win one of three advanced reader copies (actual hardcovers)! And don't forget to comment on this post for an extra entry.